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Before the top players in the NHL team up for the annual All-Star Game, first they show off their elite talents in the skills competition. This year, 44 of the league’s best players will compete in six different events.
How to watch
This season, the NHL returns to the divisional format it introduced last year, though this time around the fans voted for the players who will captain each of the four squads, rather than simply voting for any player they feel deserves to be there (which resulted in the selection of John Scott — and a lot of drama — last season).
P.K. Subban, Sidney Crosby, second-year professional Connor McDavid, and Montreal Canadiens goaltender and recent NHL MVP Carey Price head their teams, and were the key decision-makers in setting up the event competitors.
Carey Price (Captain)
Sidney Crosby (Captain)
P.K. Subban (Captain)
Connor McDavid (Captain)
At stake in the skills competition, other than personal bragging rights, is the time slot of the individual games of the 3-on-3 tournament. The overall winner gets the opportunity to play in the first of three mini-games, and therefore get the longest break ahead of the final matchup.
Skills Relay Challenge
The night kicks of with a variety of talents combined into a single challenge. The relay will start with a one-timer challenge before moving onto passing skills, puck control, stick-handling, and end with goaltenders shooting on the opposite net. The quickest team from each conference to finish all the disciplines will claim a point, while the fastest of the four squads will claim an additional one.
A shooter is placed on each of the near blue line, centre-ice red line, far blue line, and far goal line, and each takes two shots attempting to pick the corners of the net. Top corners increase in value from one point from the near blue line, to three, to five points at the far blue line. Those at the far goal line will attempt to hit the five hole of the net for 10 points (or 20 if the goal is scored by goaltender, but as of now no goalie is scheduled to be one of the four shooters).
Players from each team attempt to hit tagets placed in the four corners of the net. The fastest one to complete the challenge (regardless of efficiency) will claim a point for his team.
Two skaters go head-to head around half of the ice surface, with the fastest man winning a point. The fastest overall skater will then have chance to do a full lap of the rink to attempt to set a new record.
The heat to watch will be McDavid going head-to-head with Nathan MacKinnon, with the fastest time likely coming down to those two.
The marquee event of the night has some of the top players firing a puck into the net as hard as they can. Players will compete head-to-had with conference opponents, with the one with the hardest shot claiming a point.
Shea Weber looks to defend his title and perhaps set a new mark, needing to surpass Zdeno Chara’s 108.8 miles per hour to do so. For the first time, he will be launching his patented slap shot in a Canadiens jersey.
The team with the most points from the Eastern and Western Conference will participate in the shootout, with one skater from the losing division added to his conference’s team. A total of nine shooters per team will attempt to score, with the one addition from the losing team counting for two goals if he scores.
The division that comes out on top in the shootout will pick the time slot for its All-Star Tournament semi-final, and also the opponent they will face in their first game.