It’s the day before the 2020 NHL All-Star Game which means that the annual skills competition was on the docket. This year’s event was from the Enterprise Center in St. Louis.
Nico Hischier, the Devils’ lone representative in this year’s festivities, competed in the shooting accuracy event. Kyle Palmieri, the Devils’ 2019 all-star and the man that Nico replaced on this year’s team, competed in the same event last year.
The night kicked off (following a speech from Wayne Gretzky) with the fastest skater competition. Mat Barzal of the Islanders dethroned Connor McDavid of the Oilers as the NHL’s fastest skater. McDavid had actually won the event the last three years.
Barzal won with a time of 13.175. Competitors skated one lap around the entire rink. McDavid came in second with a time of 13.215.
The next event was the Save Streak and focused on goalies. Hischier participated in this one too, shooting twice for the Metropolitan Division against Atlantic Division goaltenders.
His first try was against Frederick Andersen of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He missed wide in what was the second save of seven straight for Andersen. Nico also got a chance against Andrei Vasilevskiy but was stopped by the Tampa Bay goalie. Jordan Binnington of the hometown Blues won the competition with ten straight saves made.
The Accuracy Shooting event was next and Nico had to wait a little while. There is a new system that features a plexiglass board in front of a computerized video board with targets on it. The targets had the player’s name in the upper right corner, their team’s logo in the lower right, the All-Star Game logo in the middle, the player’s number in the lower left corner and the number of All-Star appearances in the upper left (left-right from the goalie’s point of view).
The plexiglass broke just prior to Nico shooting and needed to be replaced. When things were finally settled, Hischier took his shots, “breaking” all five targets in 19.550 seconds. That finished him eighth out of eight shooters in the event with Jacob Slavin of the Hurricanes winning by breaking all of the targets on eight shots (9.505 seconds).
Next was the Elite Women’s Three-on-Three game between the USA and Canada. Canada came away with the win 2-1. This was part of the barnstorming tour that the two teams have been doing across North America. It was a good way to showcase women’s hockey with a lot of hockey fans tuned in to the All-Star festivities.
The next event was the Hardest Shot competition. Shea Weber of the Canadiens was looking to win this event for a fourth time and he did.
He won with a shot of 106.5 MPH, the fourth hardest shot in the history of the event, which dates back to the beginning of the Skills Competition.
Next up was the Shooting Stars event. This was kind of a bizarre competition that saw the participants firing foam pucks from a platform 30 feet above the ice surface. They shot the pucks at targets worth two, four or ten points.
Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks and Mitch Marner of the Leafs tied in “regulation” with 22 points. Kane won it in “overtime” to take the crown in the inaugural Shooting Stars competition.
It was a great night in St. Louis with a lot of exciting moments in this year’s Skills Competition. We will be back with you tomorrow night for the All-Star Game itself, featuring Nico playing for the Metro Division, who are looking to win their third title in a row.