Best moments from NHL All-Star Weekend
The Atlantic Division won the 2023 NHL All-Star Game on Saturday after beating the Central Division 7-5 in the final, with Matthew Tkachuk taking home MVP honors. Those two teams reached the final round after the Atlantic beat the Metropolitan Division (10-6) and the Central prevailed over the Pacific (6-4) in their respective semifinal matchups.
Now that you have the nuts-and-bolts information, let’s dive into the best moments from 2023 NHL All-Star weekend, including the skills competition.
Matthew Tkachuk wins All-Star MVP, entertains home crowd
If you only looked at the standings, you might assume that Matthew Tkachuk has been a disappointment for the Florida Panthers. In truth, he’s been far from that, only reinforcing his superstar status — despite his new team’s ups and downs.
Between elaborate schemes with his brother Brady Tkachuk at the 2023 NHL All-Star Skills competition to explosive play throughout the games on Saturday, Tkachuk made sure Florida fans got their money’s worth.
That included helping the Atlantic Division make the final round with a hat trick (plus two assists) to power a 10-6 win over the Metropolitan Division.
If you didn’t already know Matthew Tkachuk possesses some of the niftiest hands in the NHL, this weekend should’ve hammered that point home.
And it’s certainly not surprising the Panthers star ended up winning All-Star Game MVP.
Dylan Larkin stands out … and maybe bumps his value up a bit?
As promising as the Detroit Red Wings’ lengthy rebuild often seems, there are curious elements. Take, for instance, Dylan Larkin’s contract situation.
It’s not just that Larkin, 26, is in a contract year at a premium position like center. It’s also that he’s a pending unrestricted free agent, rather than an RFA. So, theoretically, the weekend of the 2023 NHL All-Star Game serves as an opportunity for Larkin to bump up his value.
One would assume the goal is mainly to squeeze out a few extra dollars from Steve Yzerman and the Red Wings. But if there’s any chance the Red Wings would trade Larkin, then the speedy scorer highlighted some of his assets this weekend.
In the Atlantic-Metro opening-round game, Larkin was productive with two goals and one assist. Larkin turned it up another notch in the Atlantic-Central final, collecting a hat trick to help the Atlantic win it all.
Hey, a penalty shot
Here’s a personal grievance: NHL officials should call more penalty shots when defenders illegally disrupt breakaways. It’s unclear if that gripe will ever be heard, but they leaned that way at least once on Saturday. Rasmus Dahlin was awarded a penalty shot late in the final, and while his fancy move didn’t work, it was nice to see a little razzle-dazzle.
Dahlin would score a goal moments later, so he did OK.
In the past, the stars aligned enough for Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby to pal around during NHL All-Star weekend. Between injuries, skipped trips to the All-Star Game, and the gravitational pull of aging, who knows how many more times Crosby and Ovechkin will participate in the same All-Star game?
Clearly the NHL got that memo, as the duo teamed up not just in a losing effort for the Metro on Saturday, but also during the skills competition on Friday night.
Of course, someone else stole the spotlight in the best moment of all. Sergei Ovechkin, Alex’s son, joined the duo to score the most adorable goal of the weekend:
If Ovechkin’s play-by-play regarding his chemistry with Crosby is any indication, we might not see “The Great 8” working many All-Star events as an analyst:
That’s OK, though. Every Crosby-Ovechkin moment should be cherished at this point, and there were plenty of them at the ASG.
Hat trick of hat tricks, nostalgia, and more
Hat tricks from Matthew Tkachuk (in the first game) and Dylan Larkin (in the final) powered the Atlantic Division to win the 2023 NHL All-Star Game. There was one hat trick in a losing effort, too, as Johnny Gaudreau’s trio of goals could not push the Metro past the Atlantic.
In the first period of the final, Linus Ullmark stopped all six shots on goal to “shut out” the Central. Apparently Ullmark’s hot streak can survive even when he isn’t playing behind that Boston Bruins defense.
Technically, Connor McDavid didn’t win the accuracy shooting competition. In fact, he didn’t even make it to the final, as Nazem Kadri hit all four targets slightly quicker (and Brock Nelson actually won the whole thing). But McDavid made a heck of an impression by going 8-for-8 (or 4-for-4 twice) in two rounds of the accuracy shooting. Honestly, he’s laying it on a little thick when it comes to proving that he can shoot, not just pass and skate like the wind.
While the All-Star Game featured those sweaters, players wore (sometimes wacky) reverse retro jerseys at the skills competition. Some will marvel at actually nice-looking designs, but the sheer audacity of the Lightning’s reverse retros earn them a special mention:
Although the NHL has a lot of room for improvement regarding how the skills competition played out, this weekend got the job done. Players had fun, showed off some skills, and sometimes developed the sort of sunburns that leave the rest of the winter-ravaged hockey world feeling a little jealous.
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