If the NHL had conducted the All-Star voting or picked the teams in the past week or two, Sebastian Aho might be going, again.
The Carolina Hurricanes center has been on a tear, scoring goals in his past six games as the Canes rolled into the All-Star break on a seven-game win streak. Aho has nine goals in his six-game run, starting with a hat trick against the New York Islanders, and 23 for the season.
“If I can score and help the team win that way, it’s nice,” Aho said Wednesday after the Canes’ 5-1 road win against the Buffalo Sabres. “But I’d rather take the win streak over the goal streak.”
Aho was on the Metropolitan Division team at the All-Star Game last year in Las Vegas, and made his first All-Star appearance in 2019. He was a little nervous that year, he said, although saying it was “pretty cool” sitting next to Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby in the locker room.
Both times, the Metro team won, splitting a $1 million pot and allowing Aho to come back with more money than when he left.
Aho also won the accuracy shooting competition in Las Vegas, earning a few more bucks.
“Might as well win if you’re there, right?” Aho joked this week.
Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour was the Metro coach last year and again will be behind the Metro bench this weekend with the Hurricanes the divisional leaders. Forward Andrei Svechnikov was chosen by the league to represent the Canes this year.
Aho smiled this week when asked how much actual coaching Brind’Amour does in the All-Star Game.
“I think we had one meeting, probably two minutes,” he said. “The rest of it was, ‘Just go out there and play.’ The games are not super competitive.”
Aho said he was used as the defenseman on a few shifts in the three-on-three tournament last year as the Metro beat the Pacific and Central teams. Also in Vegas representing the Hurricanes was goalie Frederik Andersen, who stopped six of seven shots against the Pacific.
Aho will have time off this year. At this point in the season, some R&R is welcomed before the sprint to the finish line in the NHL’s regular season.
“But spending the All-Star break in Vegas last year was not a bad way to go,” Aho said, grinning.