Columbus, Ohio – The cannon went "BOOM" a total of 29 times tonight in celebration of goals scored, to the delight of the fans and the bewilderment/non-liking of many of the visiting media, with Team Toews winning 17-12 over Team Foligno in front of 18,901 fans.
The celebration of hockey that is the NHL All-Star Game was wonderfully staged by the city of Columbus and the Blue Jackets organization and will not soon be forgotten by all who were in attendance.
Many coaches would lament the fact that players weren’t moving their legs, if this were a real game. There was no back-checking and very little defensive coverage. Of course there were goals scored throughout the evening, including two hat-tricks; one from the New York Islanders’ John Tavares (4 goals) and another from the Philadelphia Flyers’ Jakub Voracek (3 goals).
And in the end, it didn’t really matter what the final score was. The players had fun in a relaxed atmosphere where nothing really mattered except enjoyment by all. The fans were treated to the most goals ever scored in an NHL All-Star Game.
The hometown crowd rose to the occasion when it came to voting for the Most Valuable Player of the All-Star game via social media. The Blue Jackets’ Ryan Johansen skated away with a new Honda Accord, made in Ohio. In his remarks after winning the MVP, he thanked his family, friends and the "fifth-liners", to a roar of appreciation from the partisan crowd.
There were 92 shots on goal, making it a goal-scorers dream game with a fake "scrum" thrown-in for good measure. It was very evident that everyone was enjoying themselves. Even the concussion blasts for the cannon couldn’t dampen the spirit of the assembled masses.
By all accounts, everyone from outside the city was impressed with the event hosted by Columbus and the Blue Jackets, with nary a complaint heard throughout the weekend. From the Fantasy Draft on Friday through to the conclusion of the All-Star Game on Sunday, everyone was treated to a spectacle of extravagance.
While obviously the duo of Nick Foligno and Ryan Johansen were cheered on loudly by the hometown fans, there was a vocal round of cheers for former Blue Jacket Voracek, not only when he was introduced, but every time that he found the back of the net. It was nice to see the crowd still showing him some love.
You could see the smiles on the players’ faces as they skated over the ice, soaking in the atmosphere. Johansen had his trademark sheepish grin going all night and Foligno wore an ear-to-ear smile. This event will not soon be forgotten by them, nor will the city of Columbus forget being at the center of the hockey universe.