The NHL All-Star game has come and gone once again. Hockey goes Hollywood is over, and the regular season can resume as many fans can now look forward to the NHL Playoffs for a chance to win the Stanley Cup.
Only a year after the chaos with the 2016 All-Star game, with John Scott and crew, the 3-on-3 tournament was back. As the four NHL divisions competed for the final prize of one million dollars, the pressure was on.
However, that pressure didn’t seem apparent until the championship game came around, which featured the Metropolitan Division and the Pacific Division, the reigning champions from last year.
The first two games (Atlantic vs. Metro and Pacific vs. Central), did not seem to have the intensity that most thought it would. Skaters seemed slow, and passing seemed relaxed. The only players who looked like they were trying were the goaltenders.
Game 1: Pacific Division vs. Central Division
With a final score of 10-3, one can only imagine the game-play from both teams. The Pacific Division seemed to completely dominate over the Central Division, and it looked like Devan Dubnyk may have given up towards the end of the game.
The Pacific Division was able to evenly split their goals between the two halves, with five goals a piece. Jonathan Toews was the only Central player able to score in the first half, with PK Subban and Vladimir Tarasenko scoring in the second.
Every player on the Pacific line-up had at least one goal and one assist. Johnny Gaudreau was able to come away with two goals, however. Cam Fowler led the team with four points (1 G, 3 A).
Despite the numerous goals scored, the pace of play was very slow. The Central goalies both went 6-for-11, allowing five goals each. Dubnyk was strong towards the beginning of the half, but seemed to give up. He let in three goals within a minute.
With the dominating win, the Pacific Division would move onto the Championship Game to play for the million dollar check.
Game 2: Atlantic Division vs. Metropolitan Division
The Atlantic and Metropolitan game had a lot of goals, but still seemed a little closer. The final score was 10-6, in the Metropolitan’s favor. However, a strong performance from Wayne Simmonds and John Tavares helped the Metro.
It was thought the 3-on-3 format would avoid high scoring All-Star games, like in 2015 when the final score was 17-12. The NHL thought it would be more intense, and less goals would be scored. Wrong.
To have 13 goals in one game, and 16 in the other, those aren’t the results the NHL was hoping for. Nonetheless, the game was still a lot more enjoyable to watch than the first game. It was a lot of back-and-forth in the beginning of the half.
The Metro opened up scoring first, with Simmonds. However, Nikita Kucherov came back a couple minutes later for the Atlantic. It went like that, until the the second half of the game. After Auston Matthews put in Atlantic’s fourth goal, Tavares added his second goal to tie it up. The Metro ran away with it after that.
Braden Holtby played exactly like he has all season: stopping everything. He saved 12 of 15 shots. Cam Atkinson and Tavares led the team with four points each (2 G, 2 A). Vincent Trocheck (1 G, 3 A – 4 P) and Kucherov (2 G, 2 A – 4 P) led the Atlantic team.
With a strong win for the Metro, they went to face the Pacific in the championship to fight for the big check.
Game 3: The Championship Game
In the closest game of the day, the Pacific and the Metropolitan divisions faced off. Both teams had strong lineups. The Metro, with Alexander Ovechkin, and Holtby; the Pacific, with Connor McDavid and Mike Smith.
Despite what many would think, this game, again, seemed very slow and unenthusiastic, minus the goaltenders. The low scoring contest, however, made the game all that much more realistic.
With a final score of 4-3, in the Metropolitan’s favor, it was a hard fought battle, especially towards the end, with Wayne Simmonds capping off the victory with his third goal of the night.
The Metro-led Sidney Crosby and crew accepted the check for one million dollars. Wayne Gretzky had a big smile on his face after his team’s championship win. The fact is, many of those players will donate their split of the money to charities that have meaning to them.
The three games made the contest very fun and enjoyable for all fans, and even sweeter to those who did not want to see a strong Pacific Division go back-to-back in All-Star games.
A Final Response to the All-Star Game
It was good to see some physicality, minus what many think about the All-Star game. There may have not been any major bench-clearing brawls, or huge hits against the wall, but Ovechkin did lay a nice check against Brad Marchand – a couple times.
It was also very nice to see a new-comer win the All-Star Game MVP. Wayne Simmonds, who attended the All-Star game for the first time. Ovechkin may have won a Honda Car after the 2016 All-Star Game, but Simmonds won his Honda Ridgeline truck for getting the award. Even if he hadn’t won the MVP Award, it was still a great day for him.
Overall, this was a great All-Star break, but now everyone is glad the NHL Regular Season is back. With some tight playoff races, and a Stanley Cup at the end of the road, April can not come soon enough.