Boston Bruins: ASG Skills Competition participants and predictions

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 29: The NHL 100 line up at center ice prior to the 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Staples Center on January 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 29: The NHL 100 line up at center ice prior to the 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Staples Center on January 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The NHL All-Star weekend kicks off with the All-Star Skills Competition tonight.  What is Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand doing, and who is likely to come out on top?

The Boston Bruins, despite being second in the Eastern Conference and being on an 18 game point streak, only sent Brad Marchand to the NHL All-Star weekend in Tampa Bay, FL.  It could be argued that Patrice Bergeron was one of the biggest all-star snubs in the NHL.  But that’s an argument for another day.

The All-Star weekend is comprised on lots of fun-in-the-sun for the players, a skills competition, and a 3-on-3 tournament pitting the divisions against each other.  Tonight, the Skills Competition features six events, and the players participating in each were just announced.  Who’s competing, and who is our favorite to win?

Enterprise NHL Fastest Skater

The rules are simple:  one lap around the rink in the player’s desired direction, fastest lap wins.  Eight players are in the running for the title.  Participating are home team guy Brayden Point of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Jack Eichel of the Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski, New York Islanders forward Josh Bailey, Carolina Hurricanes blueliner Noah Hanifin, Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon, Rickard Rakell of the Anaheim Ducks, and Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers.

DENVER, CO – JANUARY 20: Nathan MacKinnon
DENVER, CO – JANUARY 20: Nathan MacKinnon /

This will be a pretty tight one, and it’s amazing to see the #1 and #2 pick of the 2015 draft (McDavid and Eichel) going head-to-head.  I think it’s going to come down to McDavid and MacKinnon, but I’m going to give the edge to MacKinnon.  We’ve all seen McDavid’s insane straight ahead speed with the puck, but MacKinnon is just lightning on the ice.

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Dunkin’ Donuts Passing Challenge

This event looks for the best of the best when it comes to sauce.  There will be three parts:  target passing, give-and-gos, and mini nets.  Have to get four of each before you move onto the next skill.  Person who does all of them the fastest wins.

Players in this event are Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov, Philadelphia Flyer forward Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn of the St. Louis Blues, blueliner Oliver Ekman-Larsson of the Arizona Coyotes, Eric Stall of the Minnesota Wild, Alex Pietrangelo of the St. Louis Blues, Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – JANUARY 18: Claude Giroux
PHILADELPHIA, PA – JANUARY 18: Claude Giroux /

This pits current teammates Schenn and Pietrangelo against eachother, and former teammates Schenn and Giroux.  My money is on Giroux.  He is having an amazing year, with 43 assists on the season.  If anyone knows sauce, it’s Giroux.  He’s my pick.

GEICO NHL Save Streak

This is a new event.  Five goalies and every skater participate.  The goalies are competing to make the most consecutive saves.  Each goalie faces an opposing division and faces at least nine shots.  Goalie with the longest streak wins.

Goalies in this one are Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers facing the Central Division, Winnipeg Jets’ Connor Hellebuyck against the Pacific Division, Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne facing the Metropolitan Division, Marc-Andre Fleury of the surprising Vegas Golden Knights against the Atlantic Division, and lastly, hometowner Andrei Vasilevskiy against the Central.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – JANUARY 25: Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) eyes the puck and makes the save during the NHL game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Philadelphia Flyers on January 25, 2018 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia PA. (Photo by Gavin Baker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA – JANUARY 25: Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) eyes the puck and makes the save during the NHL game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Philadelphia Flyers on January 25, 2018 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia PA. (Photo by Gavin Baker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

There’s something to be said about doing work in your home building, and that’s what Vasilevskiy is going to do.  He is an absolute beast this year, and I think he’s going to want to put on a show for the Tampa Bay crowd.

Gatorade NHL Puck Control Relay

The NHL usually always has a relay event.  This one features stickhandling through pucks, controlling the puck through cones, and gates where the player will have to put the puck through a lighted rung of the gate.

Skating in this event are Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames, Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panths, Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators, John Tavares from the New York Islanders, Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tyler Seguin of the Dallas Stars, and Patrick Kane from the Chicago Blackhawks.

OTTAWA, ON – JANUARY 09: Chicago Blackhawks Right Wing Patrick Kane (88) skates the puck out from behind the net during third period National Hockey League action between the Chicago Blackhawks and Ottawa Senators on January 9, 2018, at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, ON, Canada. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
OTTAWA, ON – JANUARY 09: Chicago Blackhawks Right Wing Patrick Kane (88) skates the puck out from behind the net during third period National Hockey League action between the Chicago Blackhawks and Ottawa Senators on January 9, 2018, at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, ON, Canada. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

If you’ve ever seen Patrick Kane in any of the Bauer hockey videos, you’ve seen just how silky his hands are.  This one will probably be the closest of any of the events, but I think Kane takes this one.

PPG NHL Hardest Shot

Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara and Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber are not competing this year, so this year’s contest comes with an asterisk.  Those two have won every contest since 2007, with Chara still holding the record at 108.8 MPH.

Competing this year are Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg, Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin, Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban, Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks, and Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos.

NASHVILLE, TN – JANUARY 16: P.K. Subban
NASHVILLE, TN – JANUARY 16: P.K. Subban /

While it would be great for another Tampa Bay player to win for the hometown crowd, P.K. Subban will likely take this one.  If it were a contest to see who could bury the puck best from the left face-off dot, then Ovechkin and Stamkos would be the top of the class.

Honda NHL Accuracy Shooting

The event to end the competition has undergone a face lift for this season.  Normally, there would be four targets in the corners of the net, and fastest player to hit all four targets wins.  This year, there are five targets with LED lights that light up for 3 seconds.  You have to eventually hit all five to win.

Participating players are New Jersey Devils forward Brian Boyle, Blake Wheeler of the Winnipeg Jets, James Neal from the Vegas Golden Knights, rookie Brock Boeser of the Vancouver Canucks, currently suspended Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins, Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings, Sidney Crosby of the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins, and hometown boy Steven Stamkos.

LAS VEGAS, NV – JANUARY 23: James Neal
LAS VEGAS, NV – JANUARY 23: James Neal /

Just like his Vegas team, James Neal is going to surprise everyone here.  The Real Deal is a sniper, and he’s going to put those skills to work.  I’d love to pick Marchand, but I think he’ll come up a bit short.

Next: Brad Marchand's Suspended 5 games

Who do you think will win?  Anyone going to surprise people?  For those looking to watch, coverage will begin at 7:30 pm on NBC Sports Network.