ALL-STAR MEDIA DAY
The day began with media availability for all of the All-Stars, split up by conference.
To me, one of the most fun parts about each division being represented in the 3-on-3 format is that guys whose teams play against each other the most during the season - and develop fierce rivalries as a result - have to team up. So I took the opportunity to ask a few of the Metro Division members about what it was going to be like playing with Sidney Crosby, not against him.
"That always helps when he's a friend, not a foe," laughed Capitals goalie Braden Holtby.
Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds also had a smile on his face when talking about Crosby.
"I had a chance to see him a little bit yesterday, I was just telling him how much I admire him," Simmonds told me. He added with a grin, "I probably try to run him all the time, but he's such a great athlete, such a great person on and off the ice, it's just an honor to be in his presence."
This is going to be Crosby's first time participating in this format, and since we won't get to see him skate alongside Evgeni Malkin (who had to miss the event due to injury), I think the part a lot of people are looking forward to is watching him team up with Alex Ovechkin during 3-on 3. They're looking forward to it, too.
"Listen, I've seen him enough," Crosby grinned. "I've seen the way he shoots the puck. It's tough playing against him, but try to take advantage of playing with him."
Video: Crosby talks to the media at the NHL ASG in LA
ALL-STAR SKILLS COMPETITION
As captain of the Metro Division, Crosby was the one who determined player assignments for the All-Star Skills Competition. He participated in the stickhandling portion of the Skills Challenge Relay and the Accuracy Shooting - going up against Toronto rookie Auston Matthews both times - and the Shootout at the end.
"You want to make sure that you do well," Crosby said. "There's 20,000 here and they want to see some skill (laughs). I think you want to make sure that you do well. But I think once you're out there, you just try to enjoy and have fun with the guys."
In the stickhandling session, while Matthews lost the puck at one point, Crosby perfectly stickhandled through the line of orange pucks. It must be all the practicing he does as part of his routine during warmups, where he stickhandles through the yellow McDonald's 'M' on the ice. The Metro Division finished the relay in the fastest time.
For the Accuracy Shooting, the goal was to hit four 15-inch diameter targets located in each corner of the net. The shooter to hit all four targets in the fastest time won.
Crosby had the fastest time, knocking out all four targets in just 10.730 seconds. Which isn't surprising, considering how much he works on his shot with Pens assistant coach Rick Tocchet before most practices. Tocchet will stand in the corner and pass him pucks that Crosby will quickly put at the open net.
Video: Accuracy Shooting: Crosby takes the lead
"I told the guys just to try to get pucks up quick," Crosby said. "It's timed and I feel like you can just get a rhythm when you're out there. You're not really thinking about it too much. You just kind of get some pucks and you do that all the time after practice. It's not quite the same pressure but I think just trying to get pucks up quick and they did a good job of that."
But Crosby admitted he was feeling a little pressure after Matthews only needed five attempts to finish in a time of 12.28 seconds.
"He put some pressure on me there," Crosby laughed. "He went 4-for-5. I knew that I had to get them off quick. That's the fun part of that event is just going head to head. The hardest shot is obviously a big one that everyone loves to watch. It was fun to be a part of that."
In the last event of the night, the Discover NHL Shootout, there was a twist. The captains of each team had to choose one additional skater from the other team in their conference. And the Atlantic, of course, took Crosby.
He scored a goal that was worth two points to help the Atlantic defeat the Pacific Division 4-1 in the event and take the Skills Competition title. As champions, of the Skills Competition, the Atlantic Division earned the right to picks its opponent and the time they play in the semifinal round of the All-Star Game on Sunday at Staples Center.
The Atlantic Division chose to play the Metropolitan Division in the second semifinal. The Pacific Division will play the Central Division in the first semifinal.
"It's crazy how fast it goes by," Crosby said of the weekend. "Tomorrow we'll be going at it out there and back home after that and back at it again. It'll be fun to get out there, though. You can see once those games get going guys get pretty competitve. It's just natural that the intensity, the pace kind of picks up. Except a pretty fun product out there tomorrow."
Video: Discover NHL Shootout: Crosby goes five-hole on Jones
BONUS: ALL-STAR CELEBRITY SHOOTOUT
Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky were the head coaches at the All-Star Celebrity Shootout, which took place before the Skills Competition at Staples Center.
While Lemieux's roster had a lot of Hall of Famers, Gretzky's had singer JUSTIN BIEBER. He played on a line with Connor McDavid and was very noticeable on the ice. He was stopped on two penalty shots and a breakaway and finally got on the board when Eric Lindros put in his rebound.
After the game, Bieber was called out by teammate and Oscar-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr (who is a huge hockey fan and even celebrated with the Pens in San Jose after they won the Stanley Cup last June). "Twenty-five shots later he finally scored," joked Gooding Jr.
Team Lemieux put up a strong effort, but ended up being defeated 4-3.