Kevin Shattenkirk hasn’t played since Feb. 1 because of an abdominal injury, but St. Louis Blues believe that the 26-year-old defenseman will be available for Saturday’s game against Columbus, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford.
That seems to mesh well with Blues coach Ken Hitchcock’s note on Tuesday that Shattenkirk’s return is coming “pretty quick,” per the Post-Dispatch, and the Blues’ announcement yesterday that 21-year-old defenseman Petteri Lindbohm has been sent to the AHL Chicago Wolves.
Before Shattenkirk was injured, he looked like a potential Norris Trophy candidate. He had 40 points and 77 blocked shots in 49 contests while averaging 22:54 minutes per game. Despite missing a player of his caliber, the Blues have stayed strong with a 14-8-3 record during his absence. They’re in the running for the Presidents’ Trophy.
Defenseman Carl Gunnarsson (upper body) is also expected to return from a two game absence. If both of them are available, then Hitchcock will have a tough time assembling the lineup given that he also have blueliners Barret Jackman, Zbynek Michalek, Jay Bouwmeester, Chris Butler, Alex Pietrangelo, Robert Bortuzzo to choose from. With that in mind, St. Louis might dress seven defensemen on Saturday.
The greatest fan service came during appearances by big names of old. Wayne Gretzky — announced, accurately if amusingly, as a former Blue — really kicked things off. Brett Hull took a shot during the Shooting Stars event, and Keith Tkachuk also joined in alongside Matthew and Brady Tkachuk.
Personally, though, the best moment of all of those cameos came when Al MacInnis showed that he could still provide one of the hardest shots of any human.
Hertl wears the Bieber mask, creates nightmare fuel
As great as Hertl was at playing off of Jordan Binnington’s feud/friendly wager with Jordan Binnington (the Blues can fill you in on that), the actual execution of the mask makes me think of Michael Myers. You know, the creepy-masked slasher movie villain guilty of untold fictional executions in the “Halloween” series.
It’s still funny stuff, so enjoy the video above. Just maybe don’t let those images of Hertl as Bieber sink into your soul.
Hertl explained after the Skills competition that the mask slipped, which made it difficult for him to put a decent shot on Binnington. That slip might also explain why it made it look like Bieber was the face for the rebooted “Shape,” which would make Bieber the next William Shatner.
Who won 2020 NHL All-Star Skills events, including Elite Women’s 3-on-3
So, the strangeness was mostly contained in those moments above. Granted, the Shooting Stars seems like it needs some fine-tuning, and I personally prefer styrofoam or otherwise breakable targets to the digital ones in this year’s accuracy competition.
But beyond those quibbles, the rest of the action was straightforward enough that we can breeze through the winners in one convenient spot.
Winners of Elite 3-on-3 Women’s Hockey: Canada 2-1
To jeers from the St. Louis faithful, Patrick Kane won the first rendition of the “Shooting Stars” competition at the 2020 NHL All-Star Skills Event.
Now, the crowd wasn’t booing just because Kane plays for the Blues’ rival Blackhawks in the Central Division. Some might have been grumbling because of some rules confusion. In particular, shooters going for 10 points often felt like they hit the mark, only to realize that they were foiled by the arc. That happened most dramatically when Mitch Marner thought he hit 10 during the tiebreaker round against Kane (and Ryan O'Reilly?). Once it was clear Marner got nothing, Kane pulled off the equivalent to getting a field goal to win in NFL overtime.
Shooting Stars brings some fun. It also is the sort of activity where you can get a pop from the crowd by bringing in retired stars. The audience received two such treats, as Keith Tkachuk joined his ragamuffin sons Brady and Matthew Tkachuk for an attempt. Brett Hull also took to the stage on behest of Ryan O’Reilly.
People worked the crowd beyond that. As often as Matthew Tkachuk plays the role of pro wrestling villain, he drew some easy cheers by showing off a Cardinals jersey. (To be fair, Matthew spent plenty of time in the area, so he might be a “shoot” Cardinals fan, to use pro wrestling parlance.)
So … maybe this one needs some fine-tuning, but it was really fun, including strong showings from Marie-Philip Poulin and Hilary Knight. Hockey combining Dude Perfect trick shot videos with Skee-Ball seems like a winner. Now they just need to print out tickets so people can earn worthless nicknacks.
ST. LOUIS — Shea Weber won the 2020 Hardest Shot title with a slap shot of 106.5 mph during Friday’s NHL All-Star Skills event.
“I think I knew all along that we were all just a part of the show,” said defending champion John Carlson, who finished second with a 104.5 mph shot, about going up against Weber.
The Montreal Canadiens captain won the event three straight times from 2015-2017 but did not participate the last two years. Weber topped the field of six players, which also included Elias Pettersson, Mark Giordano, Seth Jones, and Victor Hedman, with a 105.9 mph first shot.
Weber then topped his first attempt with the 106.5 mph blast.
Weber’s two best results in his Hardest Shot career remain the 108.5 mph from 2015 and the 108.1 mph the following year in Nashville.
Before the event got under way Blues legend and seven-time Hardest Shot champion Al MacInnis stepped on the ice, wood stick and all, and blasted one 100.4 mph. That shot tied his best result from the 1998 event, which he won.
Canada’s All-Stars beat the U.S. 2-1 in a strong debut for the Elite Women’s 3-on-3 event. The two teams provided a spirited game as part of Friday’s 2020 NHL All-Star Skills event.
Rebecca Johnston scored the lone goal of the first period to give Canada an early lead. Johnston scored just 1:20 into the contest:
Mélodie Daoust fattened Canada’s lead to 2-0 during the second period, a tally that would end up being the game-winner:
The U.S. didn’t just roll over, however. They pressed to get back into that game, with Hilary Knight scoring a nice one to make it 2-1.
”To be able to make history tonight and have a lot of fun doing it is a dream come true,” Knight said. ”It was a great opportunity for everyone, a great opportunity for fans who aren’t introduced to women in the sport and also that young girl who is looking at the TV and can now see a women’s hockey player and aspire to be that.”
”I think this shows how great of hockey players we are,” U.S. forward Kendall Coyne Schofield said. ”You could see the skill, you could see the puck movement, the speed, etc. and for the NHL to allow us to have this platform to play the game we know we can play in front of so many people, it really shows the strides that this game is making and we’re making it together and collectively.”
Both teams played a strong, competitive game, and saluted fans after the contest. You could argue that Ann-Renee Desbiens deserves the unofficial MVP, as the goalie made 18 saves.
Here are the full rosters and coaches from that great game. Hopefully this becomes a regular part of all future All-Star Games, not unlike the accuracy shooting and hardest shot competitions.
American All-Stars (Coach: Cammi Granato)
F Alex Carpenter
F Kendall Coyne Schofield
F Brianna Decker
F Amanda Kessel
F Hilary Knight
F Jocelyn Lamoureux-Davidson
F Annie Pankowski
D Kacey Bellamy
D Lee Stecklein
G Alex Rigsby Cavallini
Canadian All-Stars (Coach: Jayna Hefford)
F Meghan Agosta
F Mélodie Daoust
F Rebecca Johnston
F Sarah Nurse
F Marie-Philip Poulin
F Natalie Spooner
F Blayre Turnbull
D Renata Fast
D Laura Fortino
G Ann-Renée Desbiens
Referees Kelly Cooke and Katie Guay and lineswomen Kendall Hanley and Kirsten Welsh officiated the game.
The 2020 NHL All-Star Skills Competition will take place on Friday, Jan. 24 (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN) and the 2020 NHL All-Star Game will be on Saturday, Jan. 25 (8 p.m. ET, NBC).