The NHL All-Star Game has become a punching bag in recent years.
Maligned for what it isn’t, you can understand why people criticize it. It’s not the best hockey you’ll see, despite having the best players in the world on the ice.
Plus, they hired Kid Rock as the intermission entertainment.
But that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. You see, the All-Star Game isn’t a joke, it’s a comedy.
That was the case once again this year, as a number of funny moments came out of Tampa Bay at the 2018 NHL All-Star Game.
1. The national anthem
After Calgary’s Lindsay Ell beautifully sang O Canada, American country singer Brett Young gave an interesting take on the Star Spangled Banner. He didn’t sing the American anthem wrong, he just sang it… slowly.
Skip to the 2:00 mark to listen for yourself:
Anthem never fails #NHLAllStar pic.twitter.com/C1uajZGK1x
— David Alter (@dalter) January 28, 2018
Hope the US anthem singer stretches it out by taking lots of long pauses between each phrase
… said no one ever#NHLAllStar
— Omar A (@omarcanuck) January 28, 2018
2. PK jumps into bench
The first game between the Pacific and Central Divisions was lacking in entertainment value before PK Subban scored on a breakaway to tie up the game.
PK knows how to put on a show, and celebrated by jumping into the his team’s bench.
PK Subban's goal celly included a Lambeau Leap into the bench #returntosender pic.twitter.com/6xP2Hgxx2p
— RMNB (@russianmachine) January 28, 2018
3. Mike Smith’s puckhandling
Flames goaltender Mike Smith is well known for his puckhandling, but it’s not until the All-Star Game that we get to see his true potential.
Look at him skating out of the zone, leading the breakout:
Mike Smith is the best showman in Tampa pic.twitter.com/8y7SvsN9tl
— Yahoo Canada Sports (@YahooCASports) January 28, 2018
And in the final, he nearly became the first goalie to score a goal in the All-Star Game.
With time ticking down in the final and the result of the game no longer in doubt, the Pacific Division drew up a play for their goaltender.
Missed it by that much.
Smith actually had another shot at goal after the next faceoff, but missed the net again (plus the final buzzer had already sounded).
4. Boeser scores the game winner
With under two minutes to go in the first game, the Pacific Division turned to the most inexperienced player on the ice to be the hero.
Canucks rookie Brock Boeser picked up a pass from Coyotes blueliner Oliver Ekman-Larsson in the slot and ripped home a shot to the top corner – just like he did in the Skills Competition a day earlier.
It stood up as the game winner and he was later named All-Star MVP.
With his family understandably thrilled, Boeser was as stoic as ever after the game.
“This is unbelievable – smile!!” pic.twitter.com/6xS8WvRnp3
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) January 29, 2018
You’ve got to love his mom’s enthusiasm.
'MOM! You're embarrassing me!' pic.twitter.com/qedwCedolu
— Rob Williams (@RobTheHockeyGuy) January 29, 2018
We’ve all been there, Brock.
5. Epic video replay call
Erik Karlsson appeared to score for the Atlantic Division during the second game, but it was called back after a video replay challenge because it was offside.
Enter Wes McCauley, the most demonstrative referee in the league to give an All-Star worthy announcement of the decision.
WES McCAULEY 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/dG4l6UkFKI
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) January 28, 2018
6. Deja vu for Auston Matthews
Remember when Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews mimicked the referee after scoring shortly after a controversial video replay decision went against him? Well, it happened again.
Matthews’ linemate Jack Eichel scored the go-ahead goal, and both players pointed to signal goal.
Jack Eichel and Auston Matthews mimicking the Matthews goal signal celebration is great pic.twitter.com/TtPsyp0tcV
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) January 28, 2018
7. The NHL’s best villain
After getting booed non-stop all weekend, Brad Marchand’s reaction after scoring was pretty great.
Brad Marchand's got a wave for the crowd pic.twitter.com/sov7aYflAZ
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) January 28, 2018
8. Kucherov hat trick and helmet throw
Hometown favourite Nikita Kucherov scored a hat trick for the Atlantic Division in their first game, and his third goal was one for the highlight reel.
Nikita Kucherov are you kidding me? #NHLAllStarGame pic.twitter.com/tGM89JODY5
— Jeff Eisenband (@JeffEisenband) January 28, 2018
Not only did fans throw their hats on the ice, as expected, his teammates tossed their helmets on the ice at the direction of head coach John Cooper.
***Helmet Trick#NHLAllStar pic.twitter.com/MTvxukE2do
— NHL (@NHL) January 28, 2018
9. Bryzgalov working for The Players’ Tribune
Ilya Bryzgalov is a beauty.
Our correspondent @BryzGoalie30 attended #NHLAllStar media day, where he asked the best hockey players in the world about pirate captains, geometry and whatever else he felt like. pic.twitter.com/cZZNdRjgZm
— The Players' Tribune (@PlayersTribune) January 28, 2018
10. The real MVP
After Steven Stamkos rang a couple of pucks off his crossbar, Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury gave credit where credit was due. The real MVP.
Fleury showing the crossbar some love#NHLAllstar pic.twitter.com/XsWLQaDEXf
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) January 28, 2018