Monday, February 7, 2022

Weekend rankings: All-star weekend wrap, those missing Maple Leafs, Bettman fails again and more

We’ve made it through another all-star weekend. It was fun, right? Sure, let’s go with that. Everyone fist-bump.

Friday’s skills competition was pretty much what we should have expected, with a few new wrinkles, one of which was that it was secretly also Thursday’s skills competition, with the two new outdoor events being pre-taped. (The league didn’t mention that, although having it go from dark to dusk in an hour might have been a hint). Let’s be honest, the skills event always ends up being the sort of thing that looks better in a two-minute highlight package than it does when you spend a few hours watching it in real time. As always, there was too much standing around, nobody seemed quite sure of the rules, the crowd was mostly confused and quiet, and for some reason there seemed to be more people running around doing interviews than actual players to talk to. The two new Vegas-themed events worked well enough, despite that sort of awkward “Do I have to do this?” vibe that pretty much anything involving hockey players is destined to have. We’ll at least give the league credit for trying something new, and getting it to mostly work.

The highlight came in the return of the breakaway challenge, which hadn’t been seen since 2016. It’s more of a dress-up contest than a hockey event now, but that’s fine because there are only so many Forsbergs you can see in one night. This year’s show was stolen by Trevor Zegras, doing a Dodge Ball-inspired blindfolded Jedi move. Jack Hughes followed that with a full-on magic trick.

Then they both lost to Alex Pietrangelo, who… uh, pointed at Carrot Top? Look, it’s still all-star weekend, the local team has to win something whether they deserve it or not. The point is that the kids had some fun. Did it feel like everyone was trying a little bit too hard? Sure, but it’s all-star weekend, and we’ll always take that over not trying at all.

Speaking of which… the game itself. Or games, since there are three of these things now, all played 3-on-3. This year’s edition was an opportunity for the league to show off its most entertaining and important stars, which is to say the guys who do replay reviews for offside calls. We got two of those, but somehow missed out on a five-minutes officials huddle to figure out where a puck had gone over the glass. Maybe next year.

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