The NHL’s All-Star Game festivities officially wrapped up in St. Louis, Missouri on Saturday night. And while most hockey fans are excited to get back to the regular season, it’s important to take a moment and celebrate the men that performed over the weekend. Today, we’ll take a look at the All-Star goalies, starting with Jordan Binnington’s impressive showing at the Skills Competition on Friday night.
Binnington Goes Streaking
The All-Star Skills Competition is every bit as big a draw as the tournament itself these days. And even the goalies have an opportunity to shine amidst all the fastest skaters and hardest shooters. The men in the masks get the Bud Light NHL Save Streak competition, where they go head to head in an attempt to make the most consecutive shootout saves.
Playing in the Enterprise Center, the home arena of his St. Louis Blues, Binnington got the opportunity to go on last. Needing to beat Andrei Vasilevskiy’s streak of nine consecutive saves, a series of Pacific Division shooters tried to beat the hometown hero. Leon Draisaitl was turned away. Binnington prevented shots from young Vancouver Canucks superstars Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes, and then the real fun began.
Tomáš Hertl of the San Jose Sharks stepped to center ice and stopped, removing something from his sweater. He put it over his face, and the audience realized it was a Justin Bieber mask, a reference to Binnington’s internet feud with the young pop singer. Hertl made a lackluster effort to beat his counterpart and it was off to the races. Binnington made six more saves, closing with stops on St. Louis native Matthew Tkachuk and another on Draisaitl, and the crowd went wild.
Binnington celebrated with his usual home crowd and, as always, was prepared with an epic quote after the performance. “You know, haven’t skated in a couple days, uh, had a few drinks, and uh, you know I’m happy with the outcome,” he told a reporter after his victory. Never change, Jordan. Never change.
Rittich Leads Pacific to Victory
The All-Star Game has never been a place designed for goalies to shine. And since the NHL made the switch to a three-on-three tournament, the men between the pipes have been little more than an afterthought. The combined 38 goals scored on Saturday served to reinforce that truth. But one goalie did rise above the pack.
David Rittich, known affectionately as “Big Save Dave” by his Calgary Flames fans, made the All-Star Game on Jan. 15 as Darcy Kuemper’s replacement. He has a respectable .913 save percentage (SV%) and a 2.77 goals-against average (GAA) this season, though he joked that he was only named to the All-Star Game “because the Pacific has no one else.”
On a day when the All-Stars scored 38 goals in 60 minutes of action, only Rittich gave respectable performances in net. He played 10 minutes in each game, allowing just two goals total, with nine saves in the first contest against the Central Division and three saves in the championship game against the Atlantic Division. At the end of the night, it was Rittich and his teammates who were celebrating and holding a $1 million check. Even so, it was Rittich’s counterpart in the Atlantic Division, David Pastrnak, who was named All-Star Game MVP.
Goalie Gram: Vacations Galore
While a trip to the All-Star Game is a great honor for any player, missing out on the festivities offers other players a rare opportunity at a break during the season. And many goalies took full advantage of that chance. Social media was littered with photos of goalies in exotic locals, such as this one from the red-hot Elvis Merzlikins vacationing in the tropics with his significant other.
Whether they traveled to St. Louis or the flew off around the world, these netminders will be returning home soon. The NHL begins the second half of the season on Monday night, meaning THW’s Goalie News will be returning Tuesday morning.
In the meantime, for all the goalie updates you need, check out THW’s Goalie Page.
Stephen Ground is a veteran of over three years at THW, focusing on the St. Louis Blues, NHL goaltending, and the annual World Junior Championship. He is the co-host of the Two Guys One Cup Podcast, a hockey podcast focused on the Blues.