Brad Marchand didn’t have the best night, but he made the most of it.
Despite finishing seventh in accuracy shooting and being stoned by Marc-Andre Fleury on two shootout attempts during the goalie save streak event – all while hearing it a time or two from the Tampa crowd – Marchand’s experience at the GEICO NHL All-Star Skills Competition was not diminished.
“It’s fun. I also get a good laugh when [Sidney Crosby] gets booed more than I do here,” Marchand joked following the event at Amalie Arena on Saturday night. “It makes me feel good. Just being around a relaxed group and getting to know each other outside of the game, it’s always nice when you play each other. It’s a lot of fun being here and being in this atmosphere.”
Marchand participated officially in only one event, the Honda Accuracy Shooting competition, and placed seventh out of eight participants with a time of 44.692 seconds. Vancouver rookie Brock Boeser won it with a time of 11.136 seconds.
“I thought the goal was to miss the targets, if you can tell,” Marchand quipped. “Panic mode set in, you get in there and everyone is booing you…pressure was on and I completely buckled.
“It’s definitely a little harder than it looks, a little more pressure involved. That’s the one I kind of wanted to do, but after doing it I might have to stay away from that one if I were to come again.”
The two-time All-Star said playing in real NHL games is far easier than having the spotlight solely on you during a timed competition – with a hostile crowd against you.
“When you’re in a real game you don’t notice the crowd, but in a situation like that you kind of notice it a little bit more and it was fun,” said Marchand. “A lot of eyes on you…even though I didn’t do great I enjoyed it.”
Marchand was also one of Fleury’s victims during the inaugural GEICO NHL Save Streak. The Vegas netminder turned away 14 straight breakaway attempts, two from Marchand, to take the title over Nashville’s Pekka Rinne (13).
“I was having a tough go,” said Marchand. “I almost fell as soon as I picked up the puck. I thought I was gonna lose it so I just pushed it in. He made a good save. Gotta give him credit, he was hot today.”
Other winners included Edmonton’s Connor McDavid (fastest skater), Washington’s Alex Ovechkin (hardest shot), St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo (passing challenge), and Johnny Gaudreau (puck control).