ST. LOUIS — All-Star thoughts and shots from the lower bowl at Enterprise Center, where I’m positive I could have hit the arch at center ice if given a few tries . . .
■ The sweet whispers of South Florida’s beaches will beckon at this time next year. We will gladly hear their call. But, hey, St. Louis, you weren’t so bad.
A bit of sleet and snow, but a passionate turnout (it was clearly the biggest deal in town). The new ideas at the skills competition were interesting, though they need tweaking. A few bits of free advice for the NHL, some reasonable, some not:
1. Revert to styrofoam targets for accuracy shooting (environmentally friendly ones, if you please). We need that satisfying smash back. No one wants to see players shooting pucks at malfunctioning plexiglass-covered screens, unless they’re breaking them to pieces. Speaking of . . .
2. The long-distance trick shot segment (Shooting Stars) needs help. It would be nice if players had to strategize, rather than just keep firing at the 10-point object at center ice. I’d also like to see a little more action next year in Sunrise. How about targets that can be knocked down, like fake palm trees of different sizes? I know the event is supposed to be kid-friendly, but a little pyrotechnics wouldn’t hurt, either.
2a. Going further down the rabbit hole: Since it’ll be in South Florida, and the Panthers have some fun-loving alumni, how about the big target is Roberto Luongo in a dunk tank? Wouldn’t you love to hear his commentary while he’s out there? If he refuses, let’s make Gritty do it.
3. The Blues legends were involved Friday (good!) but didn’t have much of a role. In the accuracy shooting, Bernie Federko came out to . . . pass a few pucks to Alex Pietrangelo, rather than have a go himself. Brett Hull and Keith Tkachuk were sort of just there. Al MacInnis took a slap shot, and while it was hard, it wasn’t quite the 100.4-miles-per-hour speed that flashed on the video board. And short-time Blue Wayne Gretzky was introduced as “one of the greatest” players of all time; those who watched Bobby Orr would say that’s a proper characterization.
4. The NHL isn’t likely to scrap a money-making idea, so it seems the virtual ads on the boards (as seen on TV during Saturday’s main event) are here to stay. I found them to be distracting and annoying, and they’d be even more so with more players on the ice.
5. The women’s 3 on 3 was a hit. Don’t change a thing, other than giving them a clean sheet of ice (for some reason, the Zamboni arrived after the women were done).
■ Full marks for Laila Anderson, the Blues superfan who is battling a rare immune disease, for rocking the pregame introductions, and anthem singer Charles Glenn, who came out of retirement. Mixed reviews for Green Day, which joked afterward that it had no idea why it was [bleeping] trending on Twitter.
“I was, like, ‘Is this OK for family?’ ” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, who watched their F-bomb-laden performance. “Anyway. Good entertainment. The first band, Awolnation, was good, too. I thought St. Louis did a phenomenal job all weekend, from the lounge — the players’ hotel, those who have kids, they have a huge area for the kids. The fans turned out at the red carpet in that weather. They were supporting all their players. I thought they did a great job here. Good for them.”
■ Atlantic Division captain and All-Star MVP David Pastrnak is going to hear it from his teammates the next time he lollygags on defense.
“The first shift of the game one against Metro, he backchecked all the way to the goal line,” said Cassidy, the Atlantic coach. “I was, like, where was this all year? I just need to put the ‘C’ on him. Good luck getting it from Z.”
Patrice Bergeron would be the obvious successor to Zdeno Chara, but maybe one day . . .
■ Torey Krug, if he sticks around, will be getting at least an ‘A’ at some point. The Bruins still haven’t had long-term contract discussions with the defenseman. And Cassidy said he hasn’t spoken with David Backes or his reps, regarding the waived winger’s intentions. Nothing new there.
■ Pastrnak became the first Czech player to win MVP.
■ In the final, Cassidy tried to put Ottawa’s Brady Tkachuk on the ice when his older brother, Matthew, rolled over the boards. “I think it’s a good story. It’s too bad they didn’t stage something and go at each other,” Cassidy said. “But I tried. I did my part.” In a rare bit of All-Star physical contact, Matthew bumped Brady on the backcheck and set up an Elias Pettersson breakaway the other way. Cassidy: “I think it pissed off Brady a little bit.”
■ More non-Bruins fun: Seeing the St. Louis crowd cheer a Central Division goal, then start booing once they realized it was Patrick Kane. The Chicago winger cupped his ear to the fans, leaning into the hate, a la Brad Marchand in Tampa two years ago . . . The Battle of Alberta was on hold, with the Oilers (Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl) and Flames (Matthew Tkachuk, Mark Giordano, and David Rittich) playing nice for the Pacific Division. Won’t be the case when the teams meet Wednesday in Edmonton.