This year the NHL All-Star Game took its talents to Saturday night. The league's best came together in primetime in St. Louis to compete for the $1 million cash prize to be split amongst the winning squad.
Ultimately, the Pacific division took home the bragging rights (and cash) for the third time since the tournament style format was implemented in 2016. Tomas Hertl (five goals) and Leon Draisaitl (nine points) were the standouts for the Pacific, which, ironically, is the NHL's weakest division in this year's standings.
As has been the case for the last several years, the All-Star Game was played in a 3-on-3 tournament format with four total teams -- one representing each division in the league standings. The two Eastern Conference divisions (the Atlantic and the Metropolitan) and the two Western Conference divisions (the Central and the Pacific) played each other in round one, with the Atlantic and Pacific heading to the final.
Here are some takeaways from the night's action:
Laila has a future as PA announcer
It seemed inevitable that St. Louis would find a way to get Blues superfan Laila Anderson involved in the All-Star Game festivities on Saturday night, and they struck gold. Laila got the call to handle player introductions for the four Blues representatives before puck drop and she absolutely crushed it.
Laila is always a joy to watch but we've come to know her as a very quiet, sweet girl. The player introductions let us know she can also be incredibly intimidating and fierce, and now the Blues' PA announcer has officially been put on notice.
I mean, if you're not ready to skate through a wall after that...
Pace was extra slow to start
If you come into an NHL All-Star Game expecting to see fast-paced, intense action...well, that's on you. The event has had its moments over the years but we all should know by now that the players don't really care about the event and the effort level is pretty low -- even with the $1 million cash prize on the line.
However, this year's even got off to a surprisingly slow start, even by the ASG standards. Skaters were barely skating, defenders were barely defending, goalies were barely goalie-ing...it was rough. Things eventually picked up a bit, but I'd imagine the start served as somewhat of a buzzkill and was enough to get a good amount of people to tune out.
Some awkward moments in the West matchup
The Central-Pacific matchup provided several quite amusing and quite awkward moments, which helped spice up the entertainment value for the night. The first came when Matthew Tkachuk assisted on a goal to Leon Draisaitl, which is noteworthy because of. Prior to the All-Star Game, Draisaitl said he would "probably get off the ice" if he was asked to play alongside Tkachuk on the Pacific division team.
That didn't happen, but he did refuse to celebrate with Tkachuk after the Flames forward assisted on his goal.
And then he had some choice words for Tkachuk after the goal. I'll let you read the lips.
That wasn't the only bit of mixed emotions to be had in the Western Conference matchup. Patrick Kane, who is a mortal enemy of the St. Louis Blues faithful, scored a pair of goals for the Central division team. This led to initial cheers from the crowd rooting for their hometown division, only to be immediately followed by hearty boos once the fans realized who was responsible for the goal.
The confusion and torn feelings were palpable, and it was hilarious.
Green Day goes nuts
Prior to the final game between the Atlantic and Pacific, the NHL enlisted the services of Green Day for a performance inside and outside of the arena. They likely came to regret that decision, as Green Day was not very willing to tone down their punk rock attitude and explicit lyrics for a mainstream event with a nationally televised audience. They let the f-bombs fly and kept the bleep-button people on their toes for the entirety of the show.
Knowing how uptight and vanilla the NHL usually is when it comes to their entertainment acts, it was very amusing to envision how up-in-arms the league's executives likely were with the realization that Green Day wasn't going to play by their rules. It was also funny to remember that the NHL signed a two-year contract with Green Day to be an official band of the league.
David Pastrnak stays hot
Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak, who enters the All-Star break as the league's leading goal scorer, didn't let up despite the game not officially counting. Pastrnak had four goals and six points over the two Atlantic contests, but his selection was a bit interesting considering Tomas Hertl had five goals and Leon Draisaitl had nine points on the victorious Pacific team.
But, if we're being totally honest, who cares? It's the All-Star Game.