Hockey fans are making their way to Staples Center this morning for the 2017 NHL All-Star Game. It’s an early start, 12:30 p.m., so fans will want to get some gear from their favorite teams and get ready for the face off.
This is actually a tournament, with three games played to determine which division is the best. During the Skills Competition on Saturday, the four divisions, Atlantic, Metropolitan, Central and Pacific, competed in five challenges, with the top two teams competing in a shoot out. The Atlantic Division won the Skills Competition, so they chose to play the second game and to face the Metropolitan Division. So in the first game hockey fans will see the Pacific Division face off against the Central Division.
In the Skills Competition Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers was the fastest skater, Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins was the most accurate shooter and Shea Weber of the Montreal Canadiens hit the hardest shot.
But all the players suited up for today’s game are great players, so this tournament promises to be very fast, very physical and very entertaining for everyone watching.
The format is three-on-three. Each game consists of two 10-minute halves and if the score is tied at the end of the game, it goes directly to a shootout. The winners of the two preliminary rounds will then play each other in the third game to determine the best division in the league, at least until next year.
This year the Kings are hosting the All-Star Weekend and they are represented by center Jeff Carter and defenseman Drew Doughty. Center Ryan Kesler and defenseman Cam Fowler of the Anaheim Ducks will be skating and from the San Jose Sharks: Center Joe Pavelski, defenseman Brent Burns and goalie Martin Jones.
The Central Division has four players from the Chicago Blackhawks: right wing Patrick Kane, center Jonathan Toews, defenseman Duncan Keith and goalie Corey Crawford. If they take the ice together they could prove to be a tough opponent.
There will be seasoned veterans and first and second year players, but at this level, experience might not be a big advantage; all of these players can skate.
On Thursday Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella had to step down from coaching the Metropolitan Division for a family emergency. The Great One, Wayne Gretzky was named to take his place.
What fans at Staples Center can expect is a lot of great skating.
Game time is 12:30 p.m. (PT)
Here is the complete list of players that will be on the ice today:
F Nikita Kucherov (Tama Bay Lightning)
F Brad Marchand (Boston Bruins)
F Auston Matthews (Toronto Maple Leafs)
F Frans Nielsen (Detroit Red Wings)
F Kyle Okposo (Buffalo Sabres)
F Vincent Trocheck (Florida Panthers)
D Victor Hedman (Tama Bay Lightning)
D Erik Karlsson (Ottawa Senators)
D Shea Weber (Montreal Canadiens)
G Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens)*
G Tuukka Rask (Boston Bruins)
F Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins)*
F Cam Atkinson (Columbus Blue Jackets)**
F Taylor Hall (New Jersey Devils)
F Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals)
F Wayne Simmonds (Philadelphia Flyers)
F John Tavares (New York Islanders)
D Justin Faulk (Carolina Hurricanes)
D Seth Jones (Columbus Blue Jackets)
D Ryan McDonagh (New York Rangers)
G Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus Blue Jackets)
G Braden Holtby (Washington Capitals)
F Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks)
F Patrik Laine (Winnipeg Jets)
F Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado Avalanche)
F Tyler Seguin (Dallas Stars)
F Vladimir Tarasenko (Saint Louis Blues)
F Jonathan T oews (Chicago Blackhawks)
D Duncan Keith (Chicago Blackhawks)
D P.K. Subban (Nashville Predators)*
D Ryan Suter (Minnesota Wild)
G Corey Crawford (Chicago Blackhawks)
G Devan Dubnyk (Minnesota Wild)
F Jeff Carter (Los Angeles Kings)
F Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary Flames)
F Bo Horvat (Vancouver Canucks)
F Ryan Kesler (Anaheim Ducks)
F Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers)*
F Joe Pavelski (San Jose Sharks)
D Brent Burns (San Jose Sharks)
D Drew Doughty (Los Angeles Kings)
D Cam Fowler (Anaheim Ducks)
G Martin Jones (San Jose Sharks)
G Mike Smith (Arizona Coyotes)
** Added to replace the injured forward Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins
We also have a winner in our ticket contest. Frank A. from Los Angeles. Thank you to everyone that participated in our Twitter contest.
Photos by Claudia Gestro
Top photo: Jeff Carter of the Los Angeles Kings