St. Louis Blues: Pros/Cons From All-Star Skills Event

The St. Louis Blues put on a fun event for just about everything connected with the All-Star event. However, some of the league changes seemed a bit overreaching.

When the St. Louis Blues were told they would be hosting the 2020 NHL All-Star Game, they set to work on trying to put together one of the best events they could. There are only so many ways you can try to top any previous All-Star events, but the Blues did a good job.

The official events began with the All-Star Skills Competition, featuring the best of the Western Conference against the best of the Eastern Conference. There was also a new event added with a three-on-three game between members of the women’s national teams from Canada and the United States.

Some events hit the mark. Others were sort of meh. Some were a mixture of intrigue and unnecessary additions.

As with games involving the St. Louis Blues, we take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly from the skills competition.

Cons: The opening

I’m confused why the players needed two introductions. You announce each team as they come on the ice from the corner, but then wait to announce each individual name until later on.

This seemed like a waste of time that could have been cut in half if you just announce them as they come out of the corner. The only thing I can think of is, as we have seen in the past, they were worried about players not being on their mark to enter the rink as they were announced.

Cons: Speed skating

Overall, I like the fastest skater competition. I know it is not the best measure of a player’s true speed, given voice by winner Mathew Barzal saying he still thinks Connor McDavid is the guy to beat in reality.

My issue with this is either the skaters themselves or the angle we saw them at. For some reason, the angle they used to show it made things look slower than it actually was.

Don’t get me wrong, 13 seconds is pretty fast, but the angles the players were taking and the lack of skate crossover on some of the corners made it look slower. Again, perhaps the overhead camera showed these things where older angles used in the past hid them, but it just didn’t have that same visual speed on television.

Pros: Save streak

This one is somewhat the opposite of the fastest skater competition. Overall, I don’t care for the event because it seems like they don’t go for goal the way you would during a real game.

However, it is hard not to like a competition where the hometown goaltender, Jordan Binnington, picked up the win. As with all the goalies, there were some shots that were missed more than saved.

It did take a little bit away from the win since Binner’s 10th “save” was actually a post where he was cleanly beaten. But, whatever. Take the W and move on.

Pros/Cons: Accuracy Shooting

This event was one of several that had good and bad aspects. I always enjoy the event overall because it’s amazing to watch how quick these guys can snap the puck right to where they want it.

But, really? Do we need a screen for the net instead of just regular targets?

I’m sure the idea was to showcase the technology and get rid of targets that would move but not explode. However, there were at least two times when the puck appeared to hit the digital target, or close to it, and not register.

Also, they had to use up as much or more time replacing the glass since it broke in the corner from one shot. The fact the announcers had no clue the glass was broken despite the monitors clearly showing they were replacing cracked glass was not a good look either.

Pros/Cons: Womens’s game

The game itself was entertaining as hell. It is everything I wish three-on-three could be.

This was real hockey with more space, which is everything the NHL wants. But it was still regular hockey.

The ladies were digging into the corner and actually battling for pucks along the walls. Maybe the NHL players are just that much more skilled or that much faster, but you don’t see guys battle for possession along the wall or trying to stand someone up at the blue line, which the women did. Of course it helped that both goaltenders made some great saves even when breakaways and odd-man rushes happened.

Overall, the hockey was great other than the wrong team winning. I had no problem with anything on the ice.

The disliked part was what was on the screen. I am amazed at the technology capable of putting graphics on the ice and the boards and knowing that something has to pass in front of it, but it was overkill.

Companies pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to have their advertising on the actual boards. Now, that is apparently for the in-house crowd only as the graphics can put up any advertising they want on the boards digitally.

To me, this is just too busy. Combine the motion ads on the walls and the name bubbles around the players like it’s a video game and there is too much on the screen for my liking and I am someone that grew up playing EA Sports hockey.

I just want to watch the game. I don’t need a ticker and ads on the wall and things floating around on the screen and who knows what else they’ll come up with. Just show the game.

Pros: Hardest shot

This might be one of the dumbest competitions, but I love it. It is just amazing how hard these guys can shoot it.

In the past, it seemed like a badge of honor when someone would crack 100 mph. Now, it has become a letdown if someone does not eclipse the century mark.

What is still amazing is the strength that everyone has. Mark Giordano looked like a little guy compared to some of the giants. Elias Petterson barely weighed more now than I weighed in high school. Both of them blasted by 100 mph.

Then, the next players just kept one-upping the next. Of course, the favorite Shea Weber took the win, but it was still fun. We all know the Al MacInnis thing was likely fake, but it was a good bar to set for giving money to charity.

Pros/Cons: Shooting stars

Like the hardest shot, this competition shows no real purpose. If anything, it was a little overly silly. Maybe they could have used less players, but you want to get everyone involved.

Of any of the events, this one showcased actual skill the least of any of them. However, as dumb as I thought it would be going into it, it was actually the most fun.

Really the only detraction was having a Chicago Blackhawks member win the event, but Patrick Kane did it. It was good natured booing and he took it in stride so it was all good.

Overview

The All-Star Game for the NHL has gone the way of just about every other league where it’s kind of a joke, but I think the NHL still puts on the best skills competition.

The home run derby has made some interesting changes lately to improve things, but it still takes forever. The dunk contest just lost all appeal since no stars want to take place and the three point shot competition is going the same way.

So, the NHL still has the edge because the actual stars take part. Nothing in this event, aside from the women’s event, set any landmark moments. It was still a fun night.