The NHL (sponsored by something or other, surely) All-Star Skills Competition Saturday night in Nashville was it's usual informal, fun, sight-gag-laden affair, and New York Islanders fans will be moderately pleased to know their captain and perfectionist John Tavares won the night's shooting accuracy competition.
Tavares wasn't perfect -- but no one was. By virtue of his being the fastest out of several who nailed all four targets on just five attempts, he took the crown and won an extra point for his conference.
The Isles leader feels he should own this particular drill, and as Metropolitan Division captain he assigned himself the task, but he told NHL.com and other media that it's far from routine:
"We're more nervous than you think. You take us out of our element a little bit," Tavares said. "The accuracy shooting is not quite the same kind of pace. You have a lot more time to think, whereas in in a game or in practice you're going on a read and trusting your instincts. It's just such a different pace than we're used to, but we should have enough skill to adapt."
Here's how he did it:
The East, as it turned out, didn't really need that particular win. Overall on the night they dominated the competition, compiling 29 points to the West's 12. Things were particularly lopsided in the shootout, where Eastern goalies gave up just two goals on 28 shots. (See all the results in this PDF.)
Otherwise, the night was filled with tributes to ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr, who was mimicked with admiration, a mullet wig, and old round helmet-visor combo by P.K. Subban, and petted on the mop by Tyler Seguin.
John Scott, the fan-voted captain for the Pacific whose selection, and trade, and maybe-not-allowed-but-yes-after-all saga became an All-Star odyssey in itself, had a clearly enjoyable night -- and yes, tone deaf-but-unnamed NHL official, his kids were proud. (That's two kids at press time...but two more are imminent.)
"Hopefully we have two kids still." - John Scott after saying his very pregnant wife was on her way back to the hotel.— Аrpon Basu (@ArponBasu) January 31, 2016
In other popular competitions, Shea Weber was the ho-hum-again winner of the hardest shot, while Red Wings super youngster Dylan Larkin won the fastest skater competition with a time that broke a 20-year-old record.
One suspects, and rightly believes based on how often players skip for "injury," that many of these players would prefer a vacation rather than report for duty during All-Star weekend. But the skills competition usually comes off as a fun, low-pressure affair enjoyed by most, perhaps more than even the game itself.
But Sunday's game, or games, bring a different format. Maybe the three-on-three tournament gets the competitive juices flowing like most mid-season exhibitions over the last 20 years have not.