On Saturday we saw the better part of the All-Star weekend, the Skills Competition. We saw Snoop Dogg DJ the introduction and play a non-censored version of the song, which the NHL apologized for later on. In the actual competition part we first saw Ryan Suter screw up on the one-timer challenge which likely ended up costing the Central on position but the Metropolitan was far above the others with a 1:21.70 which was almost a full 18 seconds faster than the Atlantic.
Auston Matthews ended up showing what a bust he is in the skills relay by struggling very much in the puckhandling which Patrick Kane did flawlessly. We also saw PK Subban show off his commentary skills during the event. He is Canadian, and known as an extravagant dresser so I'm guessing he is the prodigy to replace Don Cherry.
Thanks to the division vs. division format the Central ended up with a point even though finishing third, while the Metropolitan got 2 points for winning the match-up and having the fastest time.
Then came the turn of the new challenge: "Honda NHL four line challenge" and I believe Honda must regret sponsoring this one. The breakaway challenge which this replaced "was for 9-year-olds" and this was to put the 9-year-olds to sleep. The challenge was mostly boring with only few players hitting their targets, one being Ryan Suter. Brent Burns made a very nice shot top corner as well. Wayne SImmonds also ended up scoring. So the Pacific had 3 points before the thought impossible goal line 5-hole shot. The NHL had made it so that if you let a goalie take a shot it will be worth 20 points. Corey Crawford, Brayden Holtby and Carey Price were the goalies to get a shot before Mike Smith, a known goal scorer , took his chance. Smith managed to get the puck on net and it went in! You can see Smith's shot here. Smith brought home 20 points for the Pacific who were already leading and would have won anyway making the scoreboard look very even with 23 points for the Pacific and 1 for both the Metro and Central, and 0 for the Atlantic. The four line challenge clearly needs a lot of work if it is to stay, or attract another title sponsor.
Then came the accuracy shooting. A classic event in which Daniel Sedin holds the record at 7.3 seconds. Kyle Okposo was the first to tackle the challenge and got a very respectable 15.970 as his time. John Tavares though failed in his attempt managing only a 26.800 time. Connor McDavid went 4 for 16 and got a 15.640 which was good enough to beat Patrik Laine, who only got a 21.820. Then came the turn of the most interesting match-up of Sidney Crosby vs. Auston Matthews. Both shooters did a fantastic job going 4 for 5 but Crosby did it a bit faster getting a 10.730 compared to Matthews' 12.280. Jeff Carter and Patrick Kane went head-to-head in the last match-up which ended up with Carter taking the point with a 17.660 time.
The came the fastest skater competition. The one I at least personally was waiting for the most. Nikita Kucherov and Cam Atkinson went head to head first with Kucherov beating Atkinson by a bit under 2 tenths of a second. Vincent Trochek beat Wayne SImmonds but Kucherov still heald on to his lead. Patrik Laine and Bo Horvat had a photo finish which first went to Horvat who extended his arm and stick to be ahead but Laine was given the victory based on his body being ahead. Neither could beat Kucherov's time though. Then it was time for the match-up everyone was waiting for. Connor McDavid and Nathan MacKinnon went up against each other. Connor McDavid is the only player in history to have made Nathan MacKinnon look slow. MacKinnon did screw up a bit on the first turn but his time was just a slight bit faster than Wayne Simmonds, so at least he wasn't last in the challenge. McDavid and his 13.020 won the challenge McDavid then got his chance to beat the record, set by Dylan Larkin last year. McDavid though had to take his attempt from a standing start unlike Larkin and he still managed to beat Mike Gartner's standing start record but was a bit behind Larkin's.
Then we saw the hardest shot, which I personally found a bit disappointing this year. The reigning champion Shea Weber was again at the event and rookie Patrik Laine also got a shot at the challenge. Patrik Laine managed to get his shot over 100mph on both chances and was the only player to do so. Shea Weber managed to beat Laine in the end with his 102.8mph shot but even he only went over 100mph once. Laine has a very impressive shot and this is just further proof of that. I really do expect Laine to one day win this event.
The Pacific lead the competition with 6 points after 5 events, the Atlantic and Metropolitan tied for second with 5 and Central at last with 3. Metropolitan and Central were therefore eliminated from the shoot-out.
We saw Brad Marchand score on the first shot against Mike Smith and Shea Weber also scored on Smith by going 5-hole. Then Ryan Kesler's kid beat Carey Price 5-hole to give the Pacific a point. Sidney Crosby who was the discover pick scored to give 2 points to the Atlantic/Eastern conference and the Atlantic ended up winning the shoot-out.
With the shoot-out win the Atlantic took home the skills competition and they chose to play the Metropolitan in the 3v3 tournament in the first game.