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ASG Skills Competition: Go Johnny Go!

Co-Starring Pirates, Cyborgs, and Mike Smith.

It’s All-Star Game Eve, and Skills Competition time!

We kicked things off with Ron MacLean on a pirate ship, complete with a crew of scurvy dogs and weird puns. (The Pirates of the Caribbean were At World’s End, and this one had me at my wit’s end. We can all make weird puns if we try hard enough.)

Flo Rida opened things musically at Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay, pseudo-lip-sync-serenading the All-Stars to the ice by division groups, before they were individually introduced player-by-player. These are the the bits where you wait for the Flames players to be announced, and then grab a cold beverage to tune back out until something fun happens. (Brian Boyle got the loudest non-Lightning ovation of the intros, and deservedly so. What stood out is the players that got a lot of boos, even if they are outside the TBL divison. Boo Kesler? Sure. Patrick Kane, well... he did beat up that cabbie for fifteen cents years ago.)

(It only took five minutes to get to the opening competition from when Gaudreau and Smith were announced, which might be a record, but also still felt like five hours.)

FASTEST SKATER

Speed kills, and so does having Glenn Healy back on my TV. Poor David Amber’s back is gonna hurt from carrying him tonight. Luckily, we get Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson on event play-by-play.

Skater Times In Seconds:

McDavid, EDM- 13.454

Brayden Point, TBL -13.579

Eichel, BUF- 13.823

MacKinnon, COL- 14.056

Rakell, ANA-14.181

Wereski, CBJ -14.250

Hanifin, CAR -14.317

Bailey, NYI- 14.413

To nobody’s surprise and Flames fans’ eternal chagrin, Connor McDavid blows past everybody in-games, and in pylon drills. First ever back-to-back fastest skater, and certainly not his last. (Everyone gets to ARRR WALK THE PLANK against Cap’n McDavid of the Edmonton Oiley Seas! That’s the last of my pirate jokes. Honest.)

PASSING CHALLENGE:

Technology continues to confound our modern day lives, as the new drills have something to do with LED-light up targets, mini-nets, and skates through the neutral zone. (It harkens back to the FOX glowing puck days, or Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey on the N64. Neither of which things were good, and the jury’s out on this one.) PK Subban was mic’d up to do some PBP on this drill, and we got more pirate jokes. And footage of Erik Karlsson in a pirate costume. Not kidding.

Completion Times:

Pietrangelo, STL- 46.610

Staal, MIN -54.679

Ekman Larsson, ARI, -1:04.53

Schenn, STL -105.95

Giroux, PHI -1:07.419

Kucherov, TBL -1:39.562

Letang, PIT -1:00.15

Doughty, LA -1:47.415

Blues Captain Alex Pietrangelo takes this one. The highlight was Drew Doughty blowing it and firing slapshots at more than one target, as he took the basement time. They may take a look at tweaking this next year, for now, I’ll take a pass at this one. (Pun, none-pirate related.)

The greatest Toronto Blue Jay of all time is in the house, Roberto Alomar gets interviewed by Healy and Amber. He laments the thought of making Hall Of Fame double plays with an NHL goalie glove. (Any number of current Blue Jays infielders could use one of those monster mitts after last year, AMIRITE?! I kid, Let’s Go Blue Jays.)

GOALIE CHALLENGE :

It’s a breakaway challenge, good luck tenders on this one. This has another convoluted set of rules involving save streaks, all shooters getting a shot, and goals being streak enders. Most consecutive saves before allowing a goal is the benchmark here. Pew pew!

Goaltenders by Order and Highest Streak:

Lundqvist, NYR -5

Hellebuyck, WPG -2

Rinne, NSH -13

Fleury, VGK -14

Vasilevsky, TBL -3

A mic’ed up Carey Price alluded to knowing some guys who know some guys. (Careful, did the Habs alumni not have mob connections years ago?) PK Subban threw his glove at Lundqvist in a distraction to get a goal, in what was the first truly hilarious bit of the night. When it was all over, Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury takes the cake with an impressive 14 straight.

After that marathon, we got an ad break, an extended Drew Doughty interview, an extended discussion with the panel, a very nice Brian Boyle piece, a vid pack on fan contests, and another ad break. (I think I took two beer breaks over the course of that. )

PUCK CONTROL RELAY

This rolls through the puck deke drill, the classic Gatorade course, and more LED- Rise Of the Machines technology, with three tri-leveled shelf things that randomize which of three holes the pucks have to be lifted through. (HASTA LA VISTA, SIMPLICITY!)

Skaters by Order and Completion Time:

Johnny Gaudreau, CGY -24.650

Barkov, FLA -33.23

Karlsson, OTT- 37.41

Tavares, NYI -28.24

McDavid, EDM -29.22

Mathews, TOR -44.34

Segui, DAL -39.078

Kane, CHI- 32.792

Karlsson highlighted the LED blocks by just picking it up and dumping it through the holes. And he had a hard time even getting away with that. Our own Johnny Hockey set the bar as first contestant, and it stayed there. The Flames take their first individual victory of the night! (#GoJohnnyGo!)

HARDEST SHOT:

The piece de resistance of every ASG Skill Competition! I’d make a cannon joke in the spirit of the preposterous pirate theme, but I’m not a maniac. All-Star and Flame Mike Smith got the wear the headset for this one. Mike hollering “HEY NICE MARSHMALLOW GUN” at Burns might be line of the night. Ovechkin takes this one with 101MPH, and also taking second hardest at 98.8 (Somehow this is his first win in hardest shot. Still not making pirate ship cannon jokes.)

ACCURACY SHOOTING:

The main event of the evening, and in the Terminator theme continuing, the old exploding bullseyes have been replaced with (stop me if you’ve heard this before) LED’s. They’re set with 3 second timers and are randomized in order they must be hit, taking away the shooters choice. (Shoot ME if they keep switching the traditions of the drills in years to come.) We also got footage of Steven Stamkos hitting and grounding a drone with a bullseye on it at practice. (Put Stammer on the front lines when the Skynet uprising comes. Thanks anyways, Sarah Connor.) Boeser smashed one of the LED’s, and we had to wait for a tech to come out and change it. (Time for more beer and grumbling to myself about machines. While we’re at it, you kids get off my lawn. BACK IN MY DAY...)

Boyle, NJ -11.626

Wheeler, WPG -22.531

Neal, VGK -14.262

Boeser-, VAN -11.136

Marchand, BOS -44.692

Kopitar, LA -50.844

Crosby, PIT -15.851

Stamkos, TBL -21.923

Brock Boeser takes this one by a healthy lead, maybe he purposefully cranked one of those LED’s to throw the remaining shooters off. Maybe he’s scared of Terminators. Maybe he’s just accurate as heck.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

It was a fun night, big takeaway for us at M&G is Johnny Gaudreau taking the Puck Control Relay. The showed lacked some of those preposterous showoff moments and stunts from years past, and the introduction of LED’s will take some getting used to. Catch the 3-on-3 All-Star Game tomorrow from Tampa Bay, and keep your eyes peeled for the T-800 uprising, and pirates.