The NHL All-Star event has come and gone, and the Colorado Avalanche were well represented with three individuals receiving All-Star honors. Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, and fan-voted nominee, Alexandar Georgiev, all had impressive moments over the weekend. Cale Makar took second place in the Skills challenge while Makar was eliminated after the one-on-one event as he didn’t finish as a top-six skater to move on to the final event. But the biggest news and performance of the Avs during the skill portion of the weekend was that of Alexandar Georgiev.
Being the NHL leader in wins is an impressive stat for a lot of people, but he has also played in a league-leading 42 games, starting 41 of them for the Avalanche. The numbers that give many award voters pause are his Goals Against Average (GAA) and his Save Percentage (SV%), both of which are ranked as 32nd and 21st best among goalies with a minimum of 20 games played this season. These aren’t numbers that bode well for a starting goaltender with his workload. But his All-Star selection is deserved, and he proved he is a solid goaltender.
In the one-on-one portion of the skills challenge, it became evident that Georgiev was going to go up against one of the best-scoring skaters in the NHL, Connor McDavid. Most times, goalies don’t put in a ton of effort for putting on the pads during the skills challenge, as there isn’t an incentive for 20 minutes of work. This year, the goalies had $100,000 on the line for whoever could record the most saves during the event. Georgiev needed to record at least eight saves to tie with two other goalies, with nine saves giving him the prize outright.
McDavid is a hell of a skater, and with a win for fastest skater in his pocket, proved to be quick getting a total of 11 attempts against Georgiev. But Georgie was playing for keeps this time. Georgiev was the only goalie to utilize the poke check not once, but twice against McDavid, forcing the skater to adjust his strategy on the fly. By the time the final seconds ticked off the clock, McDavid had already grabbed his final puck from the blue line and was skating in. This final save would net the Avalanche netminder a cool $100k, and that is exactly what he did, allowing only two goals in the event against one of this generation’s greatest skaters.
After a quick interview for the fans, Georgiev was done, back to the dressing room to take off the gear, and back to “our regularly scheduled program” skills challenge. Makes you feel bad for the goaltenders that are elected to the All-Star game. Doesn’t feel like they get enough attention or participation during the weekend event. Fans get excited when they see their team’s goalie do something like scoring an empty net goal during a regular season game or get an assist because a player went coast-to-coast and scored a goal. We the fans NEED more involvement from the goalies. Where would the NHL be without goalies?
What other events could goalies do? We don’t need much, but if this year’s format is a building block, you could get three or four events out of the goalies and give them a decent prize purse to pursue as an overall winner. Outside of the one-on-one event, let's add an empty net goal-style event. Maybe different points from various zone types deal with multipliers for going through some different obstacles on the ice? How about a goalie obstacle course? Fans who have been to Avalanche games have seen pee-wee teams participate in these types of events, and there is always a goalie involved which typically gets the loudest cheers of all. As for a fourth event, I’m all for a stick-handling or one-timer saves event.
Just make it fun for everyone. I know skaters get their fair share of attention, but the goalies earned their spots as All-Stars too. Shouldn’t they be showered with just as much love and attention as the rest? The NFL does an excellent job of creating various skills challenges that highlight players of all shapes and sizes testing speed, agility, strength, power, and more. The NHL will take the success of this format and hopefully improve on it. Hopefully, the goalies get a bit more involved in the future.