Let’s be honest, the All-Star Game really doesn’t matter. And that’s fantastic. The best thing about the All-Star Game is that it’s a low-key way for the National Hockey League’s stars to take a break from the intensity of the hectic mid-season schedule to hang out and play some hockey in a reasonably relaxed setting.
Unlike Major League Baseball – making their All-Star Game determine World Series home field advantage, for some stupid reason – hockey embraces the pointlessness of the All-Star Game. For those that go, it’s a change of pace. For those that don’t, it’s a week off in the midst of the playoff race.
For the Calgary Flames, it can be a bit of both.
Recently, Flames have been on winning side
Since 2007, teams the Flames have played on in the All-Star Game have won four of six games. (The seventh game had no Flames representation, as Jarome Iginla had to bow out for family reasons and wasn’t replaced.)
The four wins have been split between the three different incarnations of the All-Star festivities:
- The old-school West vs. East (2007)
- The fantasy draft (2012, 2015)
- The three-on-three tournament (2016)
Gaudreau has had good performances
In a weird quirk, Johnny Gaudreau will appear in his third consecutive All-Star Game. For those of you tracking at home, he’s only been in the NHL for three seasons – so he’s batting 1.000 for All-Star appearances.
As noted before, Gaudreau’s team has won each time he’s appeared. Better yet, he’s been pretty damn good in each event. He had two assists in Team Toews’ 2015 win and a goal and two assists in Team Pacific’s 2016 tournament win. Considering he’s been trying to get his scoring mojo back, heading to an event that’s all about flashy offensive moves and scoring sweet goals sounds like a recipe for building confidence.
The post All-Star “bump”
Way back when Iginla played in Calgary, he had a reputation as a guy that was lights-out after the All-Star Break. Now, the statistical evidence of a post All-Star “bump” is a bit mixed. But regardless, reputations typically build themselves at least partially on the basis of fact. Post All-Star Break, Iginla seemed better rested and seemed to have a bit more bite to his game.
So far, Gaudreau is statistically a bit better after the All-Star Game.
- 2015: 34 points (13 goals) in 49 games pre-ASG, 29 points (11 goals) in 31 games post-ASG
- 2016: 47 points (20 goals) in 48 games pre-ASG, 31 points (10 goals) in 31 games post-ASG
Let’s just bear in mind that he’s been a point-per-game (or close to it) player for the majority of his career, so his “bump” in the second season was extremely minor. This season, he has 31 points in 42 games. Based on history, I don’t think expecting him to produce at close to a point-per-game pace is out of the realm of possibility – especially after he has a chance to just hang out and do cool stuff with the puck between the All-Star Game and Skills Competition.
Sum it up
The All-Star Game is not a tremendously important event. However, especially in Gaudreau’s case, it could be a pretty useful break in the schedule that gives the rest of the team a chance to rest up and Gaudreau a chance to continue to get his puck-handling groove back.