2015 NHL All-Star Game: Winners and Losers from Sunday Night
The 2014-15 NHL All-Star Game is in the books with Team Toews coming away with a 17-12 victory over Team Foligno at Nationwide Arena in Columbus.
Although the game was as meaningless as games get, something that was duplicated in the NFL’s Pro Bowl shortly afterward, there were some winners and losers that don’t necessarily show up just in the stats and score.
Let’s take a look at who came away feeling good and who left the midseason classic feeling bad. Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments.
All stats via NHL.com
The Columbus Blue Jackets star was voted by the fans as the All-Star Game’s Most Valuable Player, earning him a brand new car as icing on the cake.
There was obvious bias in play with the hometown fans rooting for their biggest name in the contest (with apologies to All-Star captain Nick Foligno), but Johansen fired seven shots on opposing goalies on the night and finished with two goals and four points.
He showed his creativity in “game” action a night after winning over the crowd during the skills competition. His weekend was a nice PR makeover that might help people forget about his contract holdout in the fall.
The country singer tasked with singing the U.S. anthem put together a lengthy, shrieky, over-the-top and out-of-tune number that made the barbershop trio made up of a pair of RCMP officers in red serge harmonizing with Columbus Blue Jackets anthem crooner Leo Welch seem Grammy worthy.
Fans rightly took to Twitter to lambaste the performance, which wasn’t in the Roseanne Barr category of an attempt at humor gone horribly wrong, but took the cake as far as professional singers doing a terrible job at the NHL All-Star Game Sunday night.
Among the Twitter trashes: Penguins Nation and Holly mocked the length, 2 Minutes For Hockey and Winging It In Motown took a crack at the artistic licensing, while Captain Touchback correctly noted the pitch problems.
A rough start to the festivities.
I’m not sure how many times Darryl Sutter’s son Chris was shown on the broadcast in the U.S., but the 21-year-old was a strong presence on the CBC airing.
Born with Down Syndrome, Chris has always been a magnetic personality in dressing rooms and got to bring it to the bench Sunday as an assistant coach with his dad as part of the family-themed weekend. He did his dad proud with a pep talk before the skills competition won by Team Foligno Saturday and was often in view of the cameras giving stars like Alex Ovechkin some advice on the bench Sunday.
The Hockey News’ Adam Proteau quickly gave Chris props as the real MVP.
Those jerseys were awful. Like, Team Slovenia terrible.
Lime green striping, zebra patterns down the armpits. Grayscale logos. These are not going to be hot sellers.
Allowing all the players to wear their natural numbers seemed like a neat idea, but having to watch four 91s in the most hideous fashion possible was painful.
The legendary Columbus Blue Jackets cannon at Nationwide Arena fires every time the home team scores, scaring players and journalists alike even when they know it’s going to fire.
It got more exposure than ever with a dozen goals being scored by Team Foligno—the designated home team for the contest.
Lineups to pose for photos with the cannon were as long as some at the autograph tables for players.
Letting in goals is never fun and the six netminders in the All-Star Game didn’t have much in the form of help.
Marc-Andre Fleury allowed seven in the second period—during which the 11 total goals was a single-period record at the event—and there were 29 scored in total on the night (another NHL All-Star Game record).
CBC broadcaster Scott Oake said it best during the telecast shown north or the border: “All-Star games can sometimes be a goaltender’s nightmare.”
Making it worse was the engaging but probably annoying idea of putting a microphone on poor Carey Price while he was in the middle of the action with some of the league’s best snipers bearing down on him.
The Philadelphia Flyers star tied Mario Lemieux for a single-game record of six points with three goals and three helpers, continuing his amazing season even during the All-Star break.
The humble 25-year-old was great at his old rink but the former Blue Jackets youngster shrugged off his point total when talking to the Flyers Twitter account afterward: “I had three secondary assists. So I wouldn’t get too excited about that.”
Secondary assists or not, Voracek was in consideration for the MVP, as was New York Islanders captain John Tavares, who scored four goals on the night. The two led Team Toews to victory.
There was a lot of standing around going on from the guys playing “defense” on Sunday.
Even Norris Trophy candidate Drew Doughty was caught motionless by the camera without so much as a lean toward the puck carrier or a wave of his stick in an attempt to poke it away.
But the worst offenders were defensemen Dustin Byfuglien of the Winnipeg Jets and Oliver Ekman-Larsson of the Arizona Coyotes, who were both minus-five on the evening.
That probably won’t surprise many, considering they are two of the most offensively-minded blue liners in the NHL.
Hosting what by all accounts was a great All-Star weekend, fans in Columbus got to enjoy the spectacle of some of the greatest hockey players in the world having fun in their town.
They witnessed favorite son Ryan Johansen score a pair and finish the game with four points and a game-high seven shots, earning the fan-voted MVP award (despite others arguably much more deserving).
They got to boo former captain Rick Nash, and saw one of their former youngsters who left under better circumstances—Jakub Voracek—shine with a hat-trick and six points.
They got a bit of an ego boost as a hockey market with the exposure.
They got to see people constantly spooked by the loud goal cannon.
Maybe most importantly, they got to forget for a few days just how disappointing a season the Blue Jackets are having.
Let’s be honest, the All-Star Game is barely even a game. Nobody plays defense, players skate at three-quarter speed at best and the only intensity was a fake scrum initiated by Brent Seabrook and Alex Ovechkin.
The event itself was a display of how awful the game would be if played without the threat of hits or consequences.
Yes, there were some cool aspects with camera angles, infographics and microphones. And it may be fun for the players to engage in—lobbing long no-hope passes and breakaway attempts or given the room to walk around opponents like pylons. But it’s really not a lot of fun to watch—especially on television.