If you don’t know much about the NHL All-Star weekend, you are really missing out. The NHL has made strides to improve, more than any other sport when it comes to the All Star festivities. It starts with the skills competition the night before the All-Star game which in my personal opinion is better than the NBA with the three point contest and the dunk contest, even better than MLB’s home run derby. I think it is just more exciting and a better watch for the fans.
The best part about the skills competition this year is not that David Pastrnak was involved, it was that some of the US Women’s Hockey Team got involved on the night, participating and showing examples of each skill. Kendall Coyne Schofield took the place of the injured Nathan McKinnon in the fastest skater competition and put on a very impressive performance completely the circuit in 14.346 seconds.
Perhaps the only thing more impressive on the night is that Brianna Decker demonstrated the Premier Passer challenge and won. Now, they didn’t declare her the winner because she was demonstrating the event, but she had the fastest time beating the declared winner Leon Draisaitl.
Here is a list of all the winners on the night:
FASTEST SKATER = Connor McDavid (13.378 seconds)
PUCK CONTROL CHALLENGE = Johnny Gaudreau (27.045 seconds)
GOALIE SAVE STREAK = Henrik Lundqvist (12 saves in a row)
PREMIER PASSER = Leon Draisaitl* (1:09.088)Really Brianna Decker won
HARDEST SHOT = John Carlson (102.8 mph)
ACCURACY CHALLENGE = David Pastrnak (11.309 seconds)
Yes, that’s right, David Pastrnak won the Accuracy Challenge. He joins Ray Bourque as the only Bruins to win this challenge in the All-Star Skills Competition. To take this even further, Pastrnak was only two-tenths of a second away from breaking the contest’s all-time record.
The All-Star game itself was great too as it has been every year since they switched the format to a 3-on-3 tournament. Each division is made up of 9 skaters and 2 goalies with two semi-final games and one final matchup. This year’s game was kicked off with the Central Division taking down the Pacific 10-4, moving on to the finals for the first time since the formatting switched to 3-on-3. In the second semi-final, the Atlantic Division would lose to the Metropolitan 7-4, setting up a Metropolitan vs Central Division finals. In what really was a blowout, Sidney Crosby led the Met to the win, 10-5, taking home MVP honors and wrapping up this year’s All-Star Weekend.
Back to the Bruins
1/29 Bruins 3 – Jets 4 (SO)
After a nice 9 day break between the bye week and the All-Star break, the Bruins returned to the TD Garden ice as they welcomed one of the top teams in the NHL, the Winnipeg Jets. As you would expect both teams were well rested and came out of the gate playing very physical and fast, the Jets style of play. Teams out west tend to be more physical than the Eastern Conference teams. I’m not saying they aren’t physical at all, it’s just a different style of play between conferences. However, the Bruins are one of the few teams that historically have matched the intensity of a Western Conference team. Even a guy making his NHL debut with the Bruins, Trent Frederic, who was the Bruins 2016 first round pick, dropped the gloves and actually won his first career fight.
This kid has Boston written all over him. I think what he did in this game will go a long way with this Bruins team and fans. The best part of all of this, is the reaction from his parents up in the stands. His parents dressed for the occasion, dad wearing a red sox hat while mom donned a bruins cap, they cheered and high fived one another in celebration of not their sons first goal, but first fight and first fight win. Now that is a hockey family.
There was also a hockey game at this ice-boxing match, and unfortunately the Bruins couldn’t beat Connor Hellebuyck in the shootout to win the game. While the Bruins would take two separate leads, they couldn’t increase those leads as each time the Jets would tie the game. Then in the third period the Jets took a 3-2 with now the Bruins looking to fight back and tie it up. With 8:21 left in the third period the Bruins would battle back and tie the game as Patrice Bergeron scored his second goal of the night and almost won it in overtime with a hat-trick, but unfortunately Hellebuyck made the stop.
Eventually the game went to a shootout where the B’s got shutout, but the point coming from this game will help in this last stretch of the season. The goal scorers on the night were Patrice Bergeron with 2 and David Pastrnak with one.
1/31 Bruins 2 – Flyers 3
In the Bruins second game back from the break the Philadelphia Flyers came to town. As the Bruins looked to bounce back from a hard fought shootout loss to the Jets, they got off to an early lead on a power play goal by David Pastrnak.
While the first period was winding down with the Bruins set to go to the locker room with a 1-0 lead, they eased up and Claude Giroux scored on a breakaway to tie the game. I can imagine Coach Bruce Cassidy wasn’t too happy with his team during intermission, and whatever he said to them seemed to work to start the second period. With just over five minutes played in the period, David Pastrnak would score again to take the lead. Patrice Bergeron fired a wrist shot from the blue line and Pastrnak was able to get a net front tip for his 30 th goal of the season.
The Bruins would hold the lead into the third period, but only for that as the Flyers would once again tie the game. The latter part of the third period had some excitement as both teams would see good scoring opportunities, but neither could capitalize on them. Subsequently, the game went to overtime, the second time this week for the Bruins. In overtime the Bruins really never had any opportunities as Brad Marchand took a tripping penalty early into overtime. With only a short time left on the power play, the Flyers would beat Tuukka Rask to end the game.
Tuukka Rask played a great game in his return from a concussion and he really kept the B’s in this one. He also returned only missing one game as having the bye week and all-star week gave him extra time to heal up.
The refs in this game, while they were consistent, missed a horrible call. Late in the third period David Pastrank was tripped by two Flyers players and the call never came. It was so blatantly obvious Pasta was tripped I thought it would be an easy call, but I guess refs have an off night just like players.
The Week Ahead
The Bruins will get back to their normal schedule in this next week with three games. They start on Sunday at 12:30p in Washington where they hope to beat the Capitals for the first time since 2014. On Tuesday night the Bruins will be back in Boston as the New York Islanders visit for a 7pm game. The week ends on Wednesday night when the Bruins will take on the New York Rangers in New York at 8pm.
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