NHL All-Star Game Version 3v3
The All-Star Game will undergo yet another facelift when Nashville hosts the event on January 31st. No, it’s not going to be played outdoors, although I think that’s only a matter of time. It’s not going to be played on a guitar-shaped rink because it’s being held in Music City. This time around, not only will the NHL change the way teams are chosen, but it will push to the forefront the 3 on 3 play that was just implemented for overtimes this season.
By now we’ve all seen our fair share of 3 on 3 hockey. It’s a game of keep-away and looking for the opportune moment to strike, but if that goes awry, you’re in deep trouble. Picture that over an entire 20-minute period. Now picture that with only the elite of the elite playing with not much thought given to defending. That sounds like something you’d want to see instead of the regular format with no effort, right?
However, one of the problems that go along with this change is how the rosters will be chosen. It has been announced that the fantasy draft will be scrapped. Sadly, that means Shea Weber can’t troll Philly fans by drafting Claude Giroux with the 1st overall selection. In addition to that, the tomfoolery of who gets selected last and win a new car goes by the wayside, which eliminates all chances of the internet breaking over why Ovechkin is being ‘selfish’ about being taken last. Instead, there will be 4 teams representing each division consisting of 9 skaters and 2 goaltenders.
So how do you POSSIBLY narrow down the Central Division to only 9 skaters? Just off the top of my head, here’s your likely roster: Toews, Kane, Tarasenko, Seguin, Benn, MacKinnon, Weber, Josi, Keith, Rinne, Allen. The snubs alone from this team will be pretty eye-opening: Suter, Panarin, Seabrook, Steen, Wheeler, Little, Duchene, Sharp and Klingberg just to name a few. Not to mention the fact that several of those players are top 20 in the League in points. The bottom line is there is so much talent in the Central, that we shouldn’t be surprised to see one of Nashville’s own Josi or Weber get left out.
The Central All-Stars will play the Pacific. With about 1/5 of the season played, the leaders as of now look something like this: Hall, Pavelski, Gaudreau, Carter, the Sedin’s, Burns, Doughty, Ekman-Larsson, Quick, Miller. Although the snubs on defense may not be glaring as the Central, the forward list might exclude perennial superstars Thornton, Marleau, Perry, Getzlaf, Kesler, Kopitar and the surprising Tyler Toffoli. Time will tell if this division is as bad as the standings indicate, but for the purpose of the All-Star festivities, there’s plenty of talent to go around.
In the East you will have the Atlantic and the ridiculously named Metropolitan Divisions facing off. A quick editorial note: if you’re going to continue with four divisions, go back to the Patrick, Adams, Norris and Smythe. Moving on….
The Metropolitan, like the Central, is chock-full of ridiculous offensive prowess that will inevitably leave several players home without the opportunity to gain a nice bonus for appearing. My predictions are as follows: Ovechkin, Crosby, Malkin, Kessel, Tavares, Zuccarello, Letang, Faulk, Carlson, Lundqvist, Holtby. Those are all big names in the NHL’s most popular (or populated) division, so I doubt many of them will change. That leaves out guys like Giroux, Kuznetsov, Okposo, E. Staal, Saad, Johansen, Cammallieri, McDonagh and Boychuk. The goaltending is deeper than any other division with guys like Fleury, Halak, Schneider, Mason, Ward and Bobrovsky probably staying home.
The Atlantic, which includes 4 of the original 6 teams, are not short of the highest talent either. Here’s how their team is likely to look: Stamkos, Zetterberg, Krejci, Bergeron, Jagr (if there’s a God), “no heart” Bobby Ryan, “no defense” Erik Karlsson, Subban, Hedman, Price (if healthy), Luongo. Some of those that will probably fall short include Gallagher, Plekanec, Pacioretty, Markov, O’Reilly, Turris, and 2nd year sensations Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman. Karlsson has made no secret of his feelings about 3 on 3, but given his defensive ineptitude, this game should be right up his ally.
So there you have it. A quick look at what to expect regarding this latest attempt to save the viewership of the All-Star Game. At the very least, the 3 on 3 style SHOULD bring a level of excitement to an event that has been stagnant and nearly unwatchable for years. There’s always the possibility that this will just turn out to be a pick-up game with no effort, but I think the unique nature and all of that open ice will tempt and encourage the skaters to make some highlight reel plays, leading to a day that is sure to entertain the masses.
What do you think of the new format? Is it doomed to fail like previous attempts such as the “World vs North America”? Or is this a spark the game needs to finally keep some eyeballs on the event. Did I miss some names you think will make the rosters?
Let’s discuss it! You can find me on Twitter @GreekGoalie35 and @Prednecknation.