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All-Star Game Aims to be High-Scoring Affair

Saturday's NHL All-Star Game 3-on-3 format spotlights the league's brightest offensive performers with 'open ice' to entertain-and score

by Bob Condor / @NHLSeattle_ /

The NHL All-Star Game is in its 65th year, but only five seasons into its current 3-on-3 tournament format with four teams representing their visions. The open ice affords plenty of puck wizardry, as evidenced by the 17 goals notched by the Metropolitan division during 2019 ASG play. 

It all unfolds Saturday night in St. Louis (5 p.m. Pacific, NBC Sports Network) with two semifinal games, followed by a final to determine the division squad that will be the 2020 ASG champion. Each game is a 20-minute period, neatly fitting into the usual game length. The Eastern Conference divisional game (Metropolitan vs. Atlantic) is on one side of the bracket while the Western Conference contest pits the hometown Blues' Central division taking on Pacific. 

There are some bragging rights involved. Only the Metropolitan and Pacific divisions have won in this format. The Pacific won the inaugural in 2016 and again in 2018. The Metro squads were victors in 2017 and 2019. 

The St. Louis crowd will be forced to cheer the likes of Chicago's Patrick Kane and Colorado's Nathan McKinnon if they want a winner. Last year's Central squad made the final, only to fall to a record 10 goals notched by the Metros-and that was without Washington star Alex Ovechkin, who opted out of this year's game again to get more rest for the second half of the NHL regular season. Ovechkin will serve a one-game suspension as a result. 

No worries, plenty of stars will be on hand. Blues fans can root for goalie Jordan Binnington, defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and forwards David Perron and Stanley Cup Final MVP Ryan O'Reilly, plus Craig Berube as the Central coach.  

Berube's counterpart on the Pacific bench will be Rick Tochett, who earned the nod when Vegas fired Gerard Gallant earlier this month. The division team coaches are determined by which club has the highest points percentage at the halfway mark of the regular season. Berube, whose Blues won the Stanley Cup last June, qualified because his team was leading the Central after 41 games. Same for Boston coach Bruce Cassidy (Atlantic) and Washington coach Todd Reirden (Metropolitan). Vegas owned that halfway in the Pacific, but with Gallant's departure, Arizona and Tochett are next up. 

Twenty players will be participating in their first NHL All-Star Game, including the New York Rangers' Chris Kreider, selected by the league Monday when teammate and star scorer Artemi Panarin declined due to an upper body injury. On the long-time all-star, Kane is the most-decorated with nine; Montreal defenseman Shea Weber will be making his seventh appearance. Each NHL team will have a player on hand. 

The ASG weekend begins Friday night (5 p.m. Pacific, NBC Sports Network) with the annual skills competition. This year features the first-ever "Elite Women's 3-on-3 presented by Adidas," in which an American All-Stars squad (nine skaters, one goalie) faces off against a Canadian All-Stars team. NHL Seattle pro scout and Hockey Hall of Famer Cammi Granato will be coaching the Americans. 

Here are the current rosters for the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game, to be played Jan. 25 in St. Louis:

Atlantic Division 
F David Pastrnak, BOS (2nd appearance) -- captain
F Tyler Bertuzzi, DET (1st)
F Anthony Duclair, OTT (1st)
F Jack Eichel, BUF (3rd)
F Jonathan Huberdeau, FLA (1st)
F Mitchell Marner, TOR (1st)
F Brady Tkachuk, OTT (1st)
D Victor Hedman, TBL (3rd)
D Shea Weber, MTL (7th)
G Frederik Andersen, TOR (1st)
G Andrei Vasilevskiy, TBL (3rd)

F Auston Matthews, TOR will not participate in on-ice activities due to injury, G Tuukka Rask, BOS, has chosen not to play.


Metropolitan Division
D Kris Letang, PIT (6th appearance) -- captain 
F Mathew Barzal, NYI (2nd)
F Nico Hischier, NJD (1st)
F Travis Konecny, PHI (1st)
F T.J. Oshie, WSH (1st)
F Chris Kreider, NYR (1st)
D John Carlson, WSH (2nd)
D Jaccob Slavin, CAR (1st)
D Seth Jones, CBJ (3rd)
G Braden Holtby, WSH (5th)
G Tristan Jarry, PIT (1st)

F Jake Guentzel, PIT, F Kyle Palmieri, NJD, D Dougie Hamilton, CAR, G Joonas Korpisalo, CBJ, and F Artemi Panarin, NYR, were replaced because of injury. F Alex Ovechkin, WSH (captain), has chosen not to play.


Central Division
F Nathan MacKinnon, COL (4th appearance) -- captain
F Patrick Kane, CHI (9th)
F Ryan O'Reilly, STL (3rd)
F David Perron, STL (1st)
F Mark Scheifele, WPG (2nd)
F Tyler Seguin, DAL (6th)
F Eric Staal, MIN (6th)
D Roman Josi, NSH (3rd)
D Alex Pietrangelo, STL (2nd)
G Jordan Binnington, STL (1st)
G Connor Hellebuyck, WPG (2nd)


Pacific Division
F Connor McDavid, EDM (4th appearance) -- captain
F Leon Draisaitl, EDM (2nd)
F Tomas Hertl, SJS (1st)
F Anze Kopitar, LAK (5th)
F Max Pacioretty, VGK (1st)
F Elias Pettersson, VAN (2nd)
F Matthew Tkachuk, CGY (1st)
D Mark Giordano, CGY (3rd)
D Quinn Hughes, VAN (1st)
G Jacob Markstrom, VAN (1st)
G David Rittich, CGY (1st)

F Jakob Silfverberg (personal), ANA, F Logan Couture (injury), SJS, and G Darcy Kuemper (injury), ARI, were replaced. G Marc-Andre Fleury, VGK, has chosen not to play.


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