Last updated: Jan. 31, 7:00 p.m.
FAULK IN OUR STARS
Jan. 31, 7:00 p.m.
The NHL's 3-on-3 All-Star Game was as advertised: up-and-down action, wide open play, plenty of scoring chances and even a hint of drama, as the Atlantic Division edged Justin Faulk and the Metropolitan Division by a score of 4-3.
Faulk tallied an assist in his division's loss in game one of the three-game tournament, feeding Evgeny Kuznetsov in the slot for a goal to put his team up 2-1 at the time.
"It was good, tough and fun," Faulk said. "I think there were a decent amount of chances for each team. It was just fun to watch and see some of the plays that were made that aren't necessarily made in regular-season games."
It's true: the 20-minute 3-on-3 exhibition wasn't as tight or quickly-paced as a regular-season 3-on-3 overtime might have been.
But that didn't make it any less exciting.
"It probably wasn't as fast as the regular season. It was a little slower, and guys were maybe trying to do a few more things than they normally would," Faulk said. "It's always nice when you can kind of do whatever you want out there and not worry too much about the end result. I know you always want to win and everything, but this is the time to maybe try to show off some skill."
And strategy? There wasn't much.
"Try to score more goals than them," Faulk deadpanned. "But no, nothing too crazy. Just try not to give up too many of those scoring chances."
The scoring went back and forth - the Metropolitan Division taking the lead and the Atlantic answering. And again. And again. Then PK Subban netted the game-deciding tally with 5:22 left in the game. Looking to even the score, the Metropolitan Division pulled Cory Schneider for the extra attacker and had the Atlantic on its heels.
"When we're down one, you've got to pull the goalie. We ended up getting them hemmed in for the last minute, but we just couldn't get anything to the net. I think PK was trying to play goalie as well," Faulk said. "With close games, even if it's an All-Star Game or the regular season, you always want to try to win."
It's curtains on Faulk's second consecutive NHL All-Star Weekend, memorable festivities in an electric town.
"Just being in Nashville. It's a fun city. The whole deal is pretty good," Faulk said. "Just being around town, going out and about and being a part of the atmosphere and vibe that's going on. They put on a pretty good show. It was fun to be here."
HEY NOW, YOU'RE AN ALL STAR
Jan. 31, 12:30 p.m.
It's Sunday at NHL All-Star Weekend in Nashville, which means it's time for the headliner event: the All-Star Game itself -which isn't a single game but a tournament of three 3-on-3 20-minute games in this year's new revamped format.
Because the Eastern Conference won Saturday night's Skills Competition, they earned the right to choose who played first in this afternoon's tournament. In order to build in some rest for the winning division, the East chose to play their game first: the Atlantic Division versus Justin Faulk and the Metropolitan Division.
The Pacific and Central Divisions will then face off, and the winner of either contest will cap off the tournament in the championship game.
"It might be a little bit up and down, but it should be fun and entertaining," said Faulk, a couple weeks ago, of the 3-on-3 tournament. "Hopefully we can pull out a couple of wins."
Faulk is joined on the Metropolitan Division All-Stars by Nicklas Backstrom, Claude Giroux, Evgeny Kuznetsov (replacement for Alex Ovechkin), Evgeni Malkin, Brandon Saad, John Tavares, Kris Letang, Ryan McDonagh, Braden Holtby and Cory Schneider.
"I think we look pretty good. We have some good goaltending," Faulk said.
The 3-on-3 All Star tournament gets underway this evening at 5 p.m. Eastern. You can catch all the action on NBCSN.
A FUN AND ENTERTAINING SKILLS CHALLENGE
Jan. 30, 9:45 p.m.
If you blinked, you might have missed Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk in the NHL All-Star Skills Competition.
Faulk participated in the puck control leg of the NHL Skills Challenge Relay, which took all of about 10 or 15 seconds, as he weaved his way in and around cones dressed as Gatorade bottles. He also took a shot in round two of the three-round shootout that concluded the event, snapping the puck past John Gibson.
"It was good. It was kind of tough, that little power turning thing I did," Faulk said. "It was a fun event. I'm just happy I didn't fall down."
The Eastern Conference emerged victorious, 29-12, but that wasn't really the takeaway from tonight - it's that it was a showcase of the elite skills of the best that the NHL has to offer, and it was genuinely fun and enjoyable for all involved.
The Breakaway Challenge was arguably the most entertaining the Skills Competition has ever been. There were cowboy hats, of course. There was puck juggling. James Neal pulled a hidden puck tricks, perhaps inspired by its baseball's cousin. Brent Burns' kid scored a goal. Neal brought out Dierks Bentley for a 2-on-0 rush - and Bentley scored on the one-timer. Burns put on a Chewbacca head, completing his transformation. PK Subban emerged from the locker room as Jaromir Jagr, complete with the jersey, flowing hair, pants and an old Jofa helmet. And when he scored, he did the patented Jagr salute.
In short, it was an absolute riot.
"Usually you can see some sides of players you might not always see," Faulk said. "Everyone probably knows PK has that in him, and that's why he won. It was cool. They did a great job."
In the Fastest Skater challenge, American Dylan Larkin broke a 20-year old NHL record with a 13.172 second lap around the ice, besting Mike Gartner's 1996 mark of 13.386 seconds.
"That was sweet. And he almost fell. I don't imagine how fast he would have went if he didn't stumble a little bit there," Faulk said. "We were pumped that he could get the record. You always like to see that stuff."
In the Hardest Shot contest, hometown hero and reigning champion Shea Weber again brought the thunder with a 108.1 mph slapshot. He even took an encore shot after the crowd chanted, "One more shot!" The poor pucks.
"108," Faulk mused. "That's still up there."
That was a fun night. A fun day will follow tomorrow with the 3-on-3 All-Star tournament.
SKILLS THAT KILLS
Jan. 30, 7:00 p.m.
The ice at Bridgestone Arena is nearly set for the NHL All-Star Skills Competition. Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk will participate in two contests: the Gatorade NHL Skills Challenge Relay and the Discover NHL Shootout.
Here's what to expect in both contests.
Gatorade NHL Skills Challenge Relay: Faulk will compete in the puck control portion of this challenge, as he will weave his way with the puck through cones set up between the top of the faceoff circle and the blue line.
NHL Skills Challenge Relay
Discover NHL Shootout: Faulk will take his shot in round two of the shootout, a three-round event which features all 18 skaters for either conference.
Settle in for a fun night of hockey! The Skills Competition airs on NBCSN.
WALKING THE RED CARPET
Jan. 30, 5:15 p.m.
Outfitted in a gray suit, white dress shirt and black tie, with his hair slicked back and a Sharpie in hand, Justin Faulk was ready to hit the red carpet ahead of the NHL All-Star Skills Competition.
Before being introduced on stage, Faulk posed for glamor shots backstage. Then, it was time for the parade to Bridgestone Arena, a red carpeted path carved out among the throng of fans that had gathered to see the stars of the league.
Faulk stopped for autographs, pictures, interviews and a selfie or two, of course. Screams of "Justin! Justin!" emanated from the memorabilia-holding crowd. One fan was wearing Faulk's No. 27 All-Star sweater from Columbus.
Once inside the arena, it was on to the locker room to prepare for tonight's Skills Competition.
FAULK TAKES BROADWAY
Jan. 30, 12:30 p.m.
After running through the media gauntlet on Friday, Justin Faulk strolled down Broadway with Michelle McMahon.
They even found a boot shop and decided to take a peek inside.
FAULK'S GOT SKILLS
Jan. 29, 3:05 p.m.
Justin Faulk will compete in two events in Saturday's All-Star Skills Competition: puck control in the Gatorade NHL Skills Challenge Relay and round two of the Discover NHL Shootout.
The skills relay also includes showcases of one-timers, passing, stick handling and more. All 18 skaters from each the Eastern and Western Conference will compete in the three-round shootout.
"It's a fun time," Faulk said of the relay event.
Despite developing a cannon of a shot from the point and originally thinking he was competing for the hardest shot, Faulk will sit out this year's contest, letting Eastern Conference pals Aaron Ekblad, Evgeni Malkin, Steven Stamkos and PK Subban take on Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Seguin, John Scott and defending hardest shot champion Shea Weber in the West.
Though it's not featured in any one of the six rounds of the skills contest, Faulk did submit an idea for something he'd like to see.
"This probably wouldn't be any fun for the fans, but batting pucks out of the air," he said after pausing to think. "It happens in games and guys are really good at it. I'm looking at (Nicklas) Backstrom right in front of me. He's one of the better ones in the league at it. You think you can throw a sauce pass past him, but he takes it and goes and scores on you."
The All-Star Skills Competition is set for Saturday at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on NBCSN.
QUOTABLES AT MEDIA DAY
Jan. 29, 1:30 p.m.
Justin Faulk ran through the media gauntlet in Nashville this morning, which included stops with ESPN, NHL Network, Sportsnet, Sirius XM, TVA Sports and more. He also met with the gathered media to talk this, that and the other, the size of the crowd perhaps diminished due to some guy named Jaromir Jagr talking just a few pods down.
Even still, Faulk was a good sport and a willing participant in the questioning, which ran just under 10 minutes. Here is some of the best from the Hurricanes defenseman.
On his message to Canes fans: "Hopefully you'll tune in. That'd be great. That's what we all want. The Panthers aren't playing, so the next biggest show is the Hurricanes that day. Hopefully you tune in and can watch and enjoy a good event."
On the Nashville experience: "It's been great. Nashville is fun as it is. With everyone here for this event, there's more buzz. The town's been pretty fun so far. You can walk around, seeing everyone hanging out and having a good time. Obviously the live music at every establishment you go into is a nice touch. It makes it a fun time. I'm assuming it's just going to keep getting better and better as the weekend goes along."
On the skills competition: "I think I have to do hardest shot again and get dominated by Shea Weber. Again. I've done this every time I've been here and been absolutely obliterated, so that's all right. I think there's one other thing everyone has to do, and I'm participating in that. It's a fun time."
On what he'd add to the skills competition: "This probably wouldn't be any fun for the fans, but batting pucks out of the air. … It happens in games and guys are really good at it. I'm looking at (Nicklas) Backstrom right in front of me. He's one of the better ones in the league at it. You think you can throw a sauce pass past him, but he takes it and goes and scores on you."
On if he likes country music: "If I said no, would I be shunned? But yes, I am."
On his favorite country artist: "Eric Church. [He's from] North Carolina, so I'm in good books in Nashville and Raleigh. He's fun. He's a good one to listen to."
On his go-to karaoke song, which is "Love Shack" by the B-52's: "That's a good one. It gets the people going. … Am I going to do karaoke this weekend? I haven't run into a karaoke bar yet, but I don't foresee myself getting on the karaoke machine in a public setting. It's probably best, if I'm in those establishments, to stay off the machine."
On describing Nashville in three words: "Great party town. Boom."
On his bag of swag, which includes, among other goodies, a custom Gibson guitar: "That will go on a wall somewhere probably. Probably a closet until I get a wall to put it on. … I will throw it on a wall. I will not learn how to play guitar. I have nothing else to do in my day, but I do not foresee myself with the focus to play guitar. I can hold it, I guess, the proper way. I think I can do that."
On John Scott and enforcers: "When there aren't guys who aren't going to step up and 'fight' - I guess is what we'll say but people don't like that word sometimes - people get running around, and it eventually could be more dangerous, I think. I think you have less and less guys stepping up to fight a lot, but there's still a role for them, I think. Either way, you have the most respect for those guys who are stepping up and backing up teammates. The ones I've have played with are genuinely great guys and some of the best guys in the locker room. I think there's a role for them, and they can play. I happened to read [Scott's] article the other day. He's a player in the league, enforcers are players in this league and they should be treated the same as everyone else."
OFF TO THE MUSIC CITY
Jan. 29, 6:00 a.m.
Nashville, here we come!
Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk will be making his second consecutive appearance at the NHL's All-Star Weekend, and we'll be there to bring you complete coverage of the festivities.
Until we touch down and dive into the All-Star scene, check out Faulk's thoughts on again being selected to participate in the NHL's annual classic. Also, look back on Faulk's weekend in Columbus from a year ago with this running blog and a recap of his first-ever complete All-Star experience.
Plenty more to come, so make this a regular stop throughout the weekend. Wheels up!