The St. Louis Blues players did not necessarily do themselves proud at the NHL All-Star Game. However, there were several players that did not, proving that this game needs to be moved.
Schenn was mostly an afterthought, only being mentioned once or twice. He did get a breakaway in the first period, but failed to convert it.
Pietrangelo was a little more obvious in his failings. He was on the ice for two of the Pacific Division’s goals and was at fault for one.
On the goal that allowed the Pacific to take the lead, he made the odd decision to pass it to his goaltender from the boards. Connor Hellebuyck received the pass, but really had nowhere to go with it. You can make the argument that Hellebuyck could have cleared, but Pietrangelo had no business putting him in that position.
On the ensuing shot, Pietrangelo turned his body away from a potential block as well. He was far from the only one to do that, as most of the games would become synonymous for just that. Even one of the league’s best, Erik Karlsson, turned away instead of standing still and having the puck likely glance off.
During the Atlantic against the Metropolitan, there were at least three shots that could have easily been blocked and players shied away from it. Even worse, during the Central’s loss, Tyler Seguin literally covered up his face like a scared raccoon on a shot that would have been almost impossible to hit him in the face.
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I’m not one to tell these players what to do. They are worried about their careers and not wanting to risk injury in an exhibition. That’s fine. It would be silly to throw big hits or dive to the ice to block slap shots in an All-Star Game.
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However, the game is somewhat of a farce. It’s always been an exhibition and defending has been option as long as I’ve been alive. However, the amount of players ducking for cover or allowing free reign to opponents seemed to hit a new high.
There is little doubt – even without statistical data in front of me – that fans seem to enjoy this new 3-on-3 format to the festivities. However, if $1 million on the line for the winning team is not enough to draw a little more passion, then changes need to be made.
I’m not talking the usual change how teams are formed or how many votes fans or whether it’s East/West, etc. My proposal is to move the game’s date entirely.
The NFL is usually never a good barometer for how to work just about anything. However, their timing for the Pro Bowl would actually suit the NHL well.
My proposal is that the NHL move the All-Star Game to the end of the season or prior to the Stanley Cup Final. Yes, if you do it prior to the final, you risk having some big names not there.
The idea would be to spark some energy back into these guys though. If you’re still playing for money, but remove the worry of injury during a season, maybe they go after things a little more.
The reverse argument to that is, of course, that players want to be done with hockey after a long season or being eliminated from the playoffs. There are no perfect plans though.
Many thought putting money on the line and shortening up the periods would help. There is a little more action due to the format, but no more effort and perhaps less.
The league should move this spectacle to the end of the season. Maybe then guys will put a little more into it. Clearly with deer in headlight reactions, the pride part doesn’t apply anymore.