Pacific Division Wins All-Star Game; Brock Boeser Wins MVP

In the 2018 NHL All-Star mini tournament, it was the Pacific Division that reigned supreme, defeating the Central Division in the first game, 5-2 and then taking the final over the Atlantic Division by the same score.

In the first game, the Central got goals from Nathan MacKinnon and PK Subban while the Pacific got goals from Drew Doughty, two from James Neal, Brock Boeser and Brent Burns. Marc-Andre Fleury made seven saves on eight shots while Mike Smith (playing the second ten minute half of the game) also made seven saves on eight Central shots.

In the second game, Brian Boyle was put on the ice by Metro coach Barry Trotz to start things out. It was a nice gesture and great for the fans and Boyle. The Atlantic started out with four Tampa Bay Lightning representatives on the ice (the game was played three-on-three plus goalies).

The Metropolitan Division jumped out to an early lead when Alex Ovechkin fed Sidney Crosby to make it 1-0 Metro. The Atlantic tied things up when Auston Matthews scored 4:29 after Crosby’s goal. Claude Giroux and Ovechkin then quickly put the Metro up 3-1 before Nikita Kucherov scored his first of three just before time expired in the first half to make it 3-2, Metro.

In the second half, Kucherov tied things 2:13 in with his second of the game. Kris Letang briefly gave the Metro back the lead until Brayden Point scored at 4:33. From there, Jack Eichel scored to make it 5-4. Then arch-villain Brad Marchand scored to make it 6-4. Finally, Kucherov, of the Tampa Bay Lightning, completed his hat trick in front of his hometown fans at 7:56 to make the final 7-4 Atlantic Division. That would set up a final of the Atlantic versus the Pacific. Carey Price made eight saves on nine shots while Andrei Vasilevskiy (also of the Lightning) made ten saves on thirteen shots faced.

Brian Boyle finished up with two shots on goal and a takeaway. He also won 50-percent of his faceoffs all in 6:46 of ice time.

The Atlantic Division actually had a goal called back in this one. At the 4:32 mark of the second half, Erik Karlsson had seemingly made it 5-4, but Metro coach Trotz alleged that he was offside of the play and so, after the play was reviewed, the call on the ice of goal was waved off and the game remained tied up at four.

In the final, Rickard Rakell and Boeser got the Pacific out to a quick 2-0 lead, with Rakell scoring just 59 seconds into the game. Mike Green cut the lead in half to make it 2-1, but Drew Doughty scored prior to the end of the first half to make it 3-1 Pacific.

In the second half, Johnny Gaudreau scored early (off an assist from eventual MVP Boeser) to make it 4-1. Green scored his second of the game to make it 4-2 but Rakell’s second of the game put it out of reach, 5-2 Pacific Division.

Pacific goalie Mike Smith, who played the second half tried a few times to put one into the empty Atlantic Division net – after they pulled Price – but shot wide on both attempts. Also of note in this game, Gaudreau was actually called for tripping Marchand, taking a penalty in a game where penalties are rarely called.

For the Pacific, Fleury made three saves on four shots while Smith made six saves on seven shots faced.

Boeser, the rookie from the Vancouver Canucks, won the game’s MVP award for his three points on the afternoon and the Pacific Division team split the $1 million prize money.

Hall Selected to All-Star Game

The rosters for the 2018 NHL All-Star Game – to be played January 28 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida – are set and Taylor Hall, for the second consecutive year, will be the Devils’ lone representative. This is his third All-Star appearance overall, including his time with the Edmonton Oilers.

Hall will join a Metropolitan Division roster coached by Barry Trotz of the Washington Capitals (Washington was in first place in the Metro Division at the cutoff, so Trotz got the nod). His teammates will include forwards Josh Bailey (New York Islanders), Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins), Claude Giroux (Philadelphia Flyers), Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals) who was chosen captain of the Metro in a fan vote and John Tavares (New York Islanders). The defensemen are Noah Hanifin (Carolina Hurricanes), Seth Jones (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Kris Letang (Pittsburgh Penguins). The goaltenders are Braden Holtby (Washington Capitals) and Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers). Only Bailey is playing in his first All-Star Game for the Metro.

The All-Star format is once again a three-on-three mini tournament between the four divisions of the NHL. Last year, in Los Angeles, the Metro won with Hall playing a big role in the victory.

Hall currently leads the Devils in goals (15), assists (27) and total points (42) in 39 games. He is also tied for the team lead in power play goals with Brian Boyle. Both have five.

The Metro’s opponents in the first round of the tournament will be the Atlantic Division, which is very heavy on hometown Tampa Bay Lightning. In addition to coach Jon Cooper and Steven Stamkos – who was named captain of the Atlantic by the fans, the Lightning also have forward Nikita Kucherov, defenseman Victor Hedman and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy on the roster. The Atlantic should be tough competition for the defending champs, also featuring Jack Eichel of the Buffalo Sabres (making his first All-Star appearance), Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators and Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

In the Western Conference, the Central Division will be led by two Nashville Predators: coach Peter Laviolette and Central captain, defensman PK Subban. Goalie Pekka Rinne will also represent last year’s Western Conference (playoff) champions. In what could be signaling a changing of the guard, for the first time in a long time the Chicago Blackhawks will only have one representative in the game – Patrick Kane. Meanwhile the Dallas Stars will have two in forward Tyler Seguin and defenseman John Klingberg, the St. Louis Blues will have two in forward Brayden Schenn and d-man Alex Pietrangelo and the Winnipeg Jets will be sending forward Blake Wheeler and goaltender Connor Hellebuyck.

The Pacific Division will see two first timers in Vancouver Canucks rookie forward Brock Boeser and the Anaheim Ducks forward Rickard Rakell. The Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid will serve as captain of the division and the expansion Vegas Golden Knights will be sending two representatives in forward James Neal and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury plus their coach, Gerard Gallant. The Los Angeles Kings have three players on the team in forward Anze Kopitar, d-man Drew Doughty and goalie Jonathan Quick.

Overall, it should be an interesting set of games coming up in a few weeks. The new format has been a real hit for the last few years that it has been in effect. Good luck and congratulations to Taylor Hall and to all of this year’s NHL All-Stars.