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NHL All-Star Skills Competition Set for Success

The NHL's All-Star Skills Competition features two new events designed to awe fans and help grow the game

by Bob Condor / @NHLSeattle_ /

The NHL refers to its "2020 NHL All-Star Weekend" and there is a good reason for that. The Friday night All-Star Skills competition in St. Louis (5pm PT) will be an equally fun and even informative time for fans as the Saturday night All-Star Game. It's possible the players enjoy it even more than spectators, showing big smiles and personality competing and closely watching the feats of fellow All-Stars. 

This year, the NHLers will all get a chance to watch at one time because the league has added the "Elite Women's 3-on-3 presented by Adidas" to the festivities. An American All-Stars squad will face off against the Canadian All-Stars in 3-on-3 game with two 10-minute periods and a running clock. There will be a three-minute overtime if needed. Each side will feature nine skaters and a goalie. All penalties will result in awarded a penalty shot to the opposing team. NHL Seattle pro scout and U.S. Olympic hockey hero Cammi Granato will coach the Americans, while another Olympic stalwart, Jayna Hefford will coach Canada.

Here are the rosters: 

American All-Stars (Coach: Cammi Granato)
F Alex Carpenter
F Kendall Coyne Schofield
F Brianna Decker
F Amanda Kessel
F Hilary Knight
F Jocelyn Lamoureux-Davidson
F Annie Pankowski
D Kacey Bellamy
D Lee Stecklein
G Alex Rigsby Cavallini

Canadian All-Stars (Coach: Jayna Hefford)
F Meghan Agosta
F Mélodie Daoust
F Rebecca Johnston
F Sarah Nurse
F Marie-Philip Poulin
F Natalie Spooner
F Blayre Turnbull
D Renata Fast
D Laura Fortino
G Ann-Renée Desbiens

A second new event also spotlights Elite Women participants. The Gatorade NHL Shooting Stars event will feature two teams taking elevated (aka crazy) shots from a platform behind each goal, aiming for a range of targets located on the ice. There are 10 players forming a squad: eight NHL All-Stars, one female Canadians Elite All-Star and one Americans Elite All-Star. The Elite women will be elected by social media vote. Each player takes seven shots, earning points for hitting targets that vary in value based on difficulty. There are detailed rules about hitting the center of targets, how deflections are counted, tiebreakers and a rule that a player can hit the same target over and over. But overthinking it-at least until Friday night-takes all of the fun out of it. One thing to note: Special protective netting will be installed at the Blues' Enterprise Center to shield fans. 

The remaining four Skills events will be familiar to NHL fans, including the Bridgestone Fastest Skater in which U.S. star Kendall Coyne became the first woman to compete in the NHL's skills competition, placing 7th in the event with a lap time of 14.346. Eight players will skate. Each skater will be timed for one full lap around the rink. The skater may choose the lap direction and can be positioned a maximum of three feet behind the start line. Edmonton's Connor McDavid won this one last year. 

The Bud Light NHL Save Streak includes a minimum of four goalies and all 36 skaters participate in this shootout event. Each shootout is grouped within a division. Goalies compete to make the most consecutive saves. Each goalie will face one opposing division and a minimum of nine scoring attempts. Each scoring attempt is officiated in accordance with NHL shootout rules and begins on the referee's whistle. The goalie with the longest consecutive save streak during his time in net is the winner. There are tiebreakers and divisional shooter order and rules about not stopping a goalie save streak. But it's likely one goalie will get so hot, fans won't have to know too many rule nuances. The Blues faithful no doubt will be hoping St. Louis fave Jordan Binnington does just that. 

Eight players compete in a timed Honda NHL Accuracy Shooting event. Shooters are positioned, one at a time, 25 feet from the goal line and shoot pucks at target images that appear on an LED screen placed on the goal line. Time will start at the referee's whistle and each player will shoot pucks at the target images, which will disappear from the screen after being successfully hit. The clock stops when the player has successfully hit all target images. The player that hits all target images in the fastest time wins. Stick tap to for that description. I'm still trying to turn the LED lights on in here.

Who doesn't love the Enterprise NHL Hardest Shot event? At least four players will compete, each attempting two shots measured in miles per hour (mph), with the highest speed of the two shots recorded. For each attempt, a single puck is positioned on the ice 30 feet from the center of the goal. Starting no further than the nearest blue line, the shooter may skate towards the puck and shoot it from its positioned spot into the goal. Shots must be on goal to be calculated and all shots are recorded by radar. Fun fact: If the player breaks his stick he gets another attempt. Washington's John Carlson won last year with a 102.8 miles per hour, following the 2018 win by Capitals teammate Alex Ovechkin and his 101.3 mph shot. Ovi, named captain of the Metropolitan division, chose not to join All-Star play (he accepts a one-game suspension as part of turning down the ASG spot). 

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