Welcome back to NHL Predictions! Each day, the Last Word on Hockey team will break down every game and give our NHL Predictions for each game. This will also include a featured game that should be must-watch hockey. With it being NHL All-Star Weekend over the next two days, here at Last Word on Hockey, we will give our NHL predictions on who will the 3-on-3 tournament on Saturday as well as who will win each event during skills competition tonight. Here are the NHL Predictions for the 2020 NHL Skills Competition.
Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater
Participants: Jack Eichel (Buf.), Nathan MacKinnon (Col), Connor McDavid (Edm), Mathew Barzal (Nyi), Chris Kreider (Nyr), Anthony Duclair (Ott), Travis Konecny (Phi.), Quinn Hughes (Van)
These eight competitors will compete in the NHL Fastest Skater contest. Each skater will take a one-timed full lap around the rink. The player can choose the direction of their lap. The skater will start at the referee’s whistle. The skater with the fastest time will be declared the winner. In the event that players have the same time, they skate another lap to determine the winner. There are some fast skaters in this event and it is all about sprint speed. Kreider will give McDavid a ride for his money, but this is McDavid’s event to lose.
McDavid has won the fastest skater in each of the last three year’s All-Star games. Every time he has competed in the competition, McDavid has won. His 2017 time ranks second in event-history, falling roughly 0.14 seconds shy of Dylan Larkin‘s record set the previous year. McDavid’s 2019 time is the third-best in league history. This year, he’s not only the clear-cut favourite; he’s also got a great chance to break the record. Skeptics remain, though, with many people drawing attention to the knee injury McDavid suffered at the tail-end of last season. With steep talent in MacKinnon, Barzal, Hughes, and Kreider; things could end up much closer than some would hope.
Prediction: Connor McDavid wins the Fastest Skater Competition.
Bud Light NHL Save Streak
Participants: David Rittich (Cgy), Tristan Jarry (Pit), Jordan Binnington (Stl), Andrei Vasilevskiy (Tbl), Frederik Andersen (Tor), Jacob Markstrom (Van), Braden Holtby (Was), Connor Hellebuyck (Wpg)
This competition is for the goalies at the NHL All-Star Game. A minimum of four goalies and all 36 skaters will participate in this shootout-style event. The object is for the goalies to make the most consecutive saves. All these goalies are at All-Star Weekend for a reason. However, unlike the breakaway relay in years past, the goalies look to shine in this event. The money is on the hometown goalie Jordan Binnington to win this thing. However, with the way Tristan Jarry and Andrei Vasilevskiy are playing do not count them out at all.
Certain stats can give a brief peek into this competition. Rittich leads all NHL goalies in shootout-attempts-against this year, facing 18 skaters in shootouts so far. Of those 18 attempts, he’s saved all but two. This gives him a shootout-save-percentage of .889 this season, actually second among this year’s list of participants. Jarry has the highest shootout-save-percentage of them all, with 11 saves through 12 attempts (.917). Vasilevsky ranks third among the list and, among these participants, Hellebuyck ranks last. While these stats mean next-to-nothing in a shootout competition against the NHL’s best, they give a good look into what to expect. While Rittich has had the most success numerically, Jarry has been the toughest to beat in regular-season games. In St. Louis today, he’ll surely keep that up.
Prediction: Tristan Jarry wins the NHL Save Streak Competition.
Honda NHL Accuracy Shooting
Participants: Jaccob Slavin (Car), Tyler Bertuzzi (Det), Leon Draisaitl (Edm), Jonathan Huberdeau (Fla), Nico Hischier (Njd), Tomas Hertl (Sjs), Alex Pietrangelo (Stl), Mark Scheifele (Wpg)
One of the constant events of the skills competition, the Accuracy Shooting is a fan favourite. All eight players will compete in the event. The player who hits all four targets in the fastest time will be named the winner. There is so much skill in this event. All these players have done this in their driveway or during practice. However, being under pressure is a little different.
Stats can again give a bit of insight, although they’re fairly moot in this argument. Scheifele leads all participants in shooting percentage and goals, giving him a hardy hand up. His 23 goals on 116 shots give him a 19.8 percent success rate. This is over two percent more than anyone else on the list. Bertuzzi is next on the list.
With that said, Slavin and Pietrangelo get an unfair shake when using shooting percentage as a judge. Defencemen generally shoot in significantly different scenarios than a forward. Instead of picking corners like Scheifele, defencemen often look to simply get the puck to a crowded net, where their forwards can handle the dirty work; among other scenarios. Although their numbers are still fairly bleak. Pietrangelo ranks 19th in shooting percentage among defencemen with at least 30 games played. Slavin ranks 118th.
So while the defencemen maybe a sort-of dark horse for this competition, they aren’t going to pose much of a threat to sharpshooter Scheifele. Similar to the ‘save-streak’ competition, though, the regular-season stats are hardly an indicator as to how the true competition will shape up.
Prediction: Mark Scheifele wins the Accuracy Shooting Competition.
Elite Women’s Three-on-Three Tournament
The makeup of Teams Listed Below
In between the skills competition, women’s hockey will take center stage as two teams of American and Canadian All-Stars will compete in a three-on-three style tournament. The game will consist of two 10-minute periods with a running clock. All penalties will be penalty shots just like in the NHL All-Star Game. When these two teams get together there are always fireworks. Expect nothing less in this one.
American All-Stars (hometown):
Kacey Bellamy (Westfield, Mass.) D
Alex Carpenter (North Reading, Mass.) F
Kendall Coyne Schofield (Palos Heights, Ill.) F
Brianna Decker (Dousman, Wis.) F
Amanda Kessel (Madison, Wis.) F
Hilary Knight (Sun Valley, Idaho) F
Jocelyn Lamoureux-Davidson (Grand Forks, N.D.) F
Annie Pankowski (Laguna Hills, Calif.) F
Alex Rigsby Cavallini (Delafield, Wis.) G
Lee Stecklein (Roseville, Minn.) F
Canadian All-Stars (hometown):
Meghan Agosta (Ruthven, Ont.) F
Mélodie Daoust (Valleyfield, Que.) F
Ann-Renée Desbiens (La Malbaie, Que.) G
Renata Fast (Burlington, Ont.) D
Laura Fortino (Hamilton, Ont.) D
Rebecca Johnston (Sudbury, Ont.) F
Sarah Nurse (Hamilton, Ont.) F
Marie-Philip Poulin (Beauceville, Que.) F
Natalie Spooner (Scarborough, Ont.) F
Blayre Turnbull (Stellarton, N.S.) F
Prediction: American All-Stars win.
Enterprise NHL Hardest Shot
Participants: Mark Giordano (Cgy), Seth Jones (Cbj), Shea Weber (Mtl), Victor Hedman (Tbl), Elias Pettersson (Van), John Carlson (Was),
The NHL Hardest Shot is the event the fans look forward to the most. The counterpart in the NBA is the Slam Dunk Contest. Each player will take a skating-start and rip two pucks towards an empty net. The speed will be measured in miles-per-hour. The player with the hardest shot wins. Shea Weber is back to get a shot at the crown. Weber always fell victim to Zdeno Chara, though.
Seeing one half of the duo of Weber and Chara take part in this competition once again will be a truly great sight for fans, one that they may not see much more of considering each players’ age. The duo of Chara and Weber have won a combined eight hardest shot competitions over the last 10 events. Neither player participated in the two years that they didn’t win in through this span: the last two seasons’ events. While Weber is back, Chara is absent again from this year’s event.
Weber and Chara have provided some amazing shots over the past 10 years of the event, including Chara’s record-setting 108.8 mph shot, which he set in 2012. The hardest shot event would fall out of favour after 2012, not returning to the All-Star Weekend until 2015. In 2015, though, Weber came dangerously close to breaking the record with a 108.5 mph shot of his own. The following year he hit 108.1 mph with his first shot and 107.8 mph with his second. These make up the top-four hardest shots in event-history. Since Weber’s 107.8 mph gala-shot in 2016, nobody has broken 103 mph.
With one half of the dangerous duo returning to the competition, it looks like it may be time for this to change. Weber is a strong contender to home the victory, and rightfully so, but he faces steep competition. Carlson won the event with a 102.8 mph shot last year. His reigning-champion title makes him another favourite. And fans will be quick to admit that any of the other three participants could easily snag the title. This makes a prediction fairly hard to explicitly state, as this is sure to be a very exciting All-Star event.
Prediction: Shea Weber wins the Hardest Shot Competition.
Gatorade NHL Shooting Stars
Participants: Women’s Elite All-Star (CAN) — TBD, Women’s Elite All-Star (USA) — TBD, David Pastrnak (Bos), Matthew Tkachuk (Cgy), Patrick Kane (Chi), Tyler Seguin (Dal), Brady Tkachuk (Ott), David Perron (Stl), Ryan O’Reilly (Stl), Mitch Marner (Tor)
This is a new event for the Skills Competition. The NHL is spicing things up as each player will be placed behind the goal in the stands and will shoot pucks onto targets worth a different amount of points. The two women’s participants will be chosen by social media. The player with the highest score wins. This is more a trick shot than a skill, but the money has to be on a guy like Patrick Kane. The way he can sauce the puck on the ice is something special. However, do not underestimate any player in this event.
Prediction: Patrick Kane Wins The Shooting Stars Event.
That does for NHL Predictions for the 2020 NHL All-Star Skills Competition. Stay tuned for NHL Predictions for Saturday’s NHL All-Star Game.