The NHL All-Stars put on their gear for the first time this weekend on Saturday morning at the Bell Centre for the McDonald’s NHL All-Star Open Practice. San Jose Sharks forwards Joe Thornton
and Patrick Marleau
and defenseman Dan Boyle
skated under the direction of Western Conference All-Star Head Coach and Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan.
Sharks right wing Devin Setoguchi was also on hand, but skated with the rest of the Sophomore YoungStars during the Eastern Conference’s practice session, run by Boston Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. Though Setoguchi did not get to skate with his three teammates and his current bench boss, the second-year sniper did get the benefit of dressing in the Canadiens’ locker room with the Eastern All-Stars while the Western All-Stars were stationed in the visiting locker room.
McLellan, alongside Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock whom McLellan served under in Detroit for three seasons, ran the skate for the Western Conference squad and had the players paired up on 3-on-2 drills which indicated probable line combinations for tomorrow’s 57th National Hockey League All-Star Game.
Thornton was flanked on the left wing by Marleau, with Calgary’s Jarome Iginla joining the linemates to form a formidable second line for the Western All-Stars. Thornton and Marleau were also paired together at the 2006 NHL All-Star Game in Dallas when they formed an all-Sharks line combination with right wing Jonathan Cheechoo.
NEW GAME FORMAT FOR YOUNGSTARS GAME PRESENTED BY UPPER DECK
For the first time since the NHL began inviting the YoungStars to the annual All-Star celebration, the two teams will be divided based on NHL tenure rather than conference. Setoguchi will skate with the Sophomore team coached by former Canadiens great Peter Mahovlich, battling the NHL Rookies coached by former Los Angeles Kings star and Montreal native Luc Robitaille.
The game format is slightly similar to last year’s YoungStars scrimmage, but modified slightly to maintain a high-pace of play. The following items are a few bullet points on the revised format:
- Three on three.
- Three six-minute periods.
- All NHL playing rules apply except those superseded below.
- One face-off to begin each period with the game clock running continuously, except if a penalty shot is awarded. Stop time for the final minute of each period.
- After goals, the team that is scored upon takes possession of the puck with all three opposing skaters retreating to their own half of the ice. The scored-upon goaltender puts the puck back into play when signaled by the referee.
- If the puck leaves the playing surface, a new puck immediately will be provided to the team that did not touch it last.
- When a goaltender freezes the puck, all three attacking skaters must clear the offensive zone before resuming their attack.
- Any violation that normally would result in a penalty will result in a penalty shot.
- Any violation that normally would not result in a penalty (icing, offside) will result in puck possession being awarded to the non-offending team.
- Live play will resume immediately following all penalty shots.
HONDA/NHL SUPERSKILLS, SCOTIABANK FAN FAV BREAKAWAY CHALLENGE
- If the teams are tied after three periods, there will be sudden-death, two-on-two play for one minute.
- If the game remains tied, sudden-death, one-on-one play begins and continues until a goal is scored.
The event will be televised on VERSUS in HD, beginning tonight at 4:00 PM (Pacific). A recap of the evening’s action will be on SJSHARKS.com following the event. Fans can also watch the All-Star Red Carpet Arrivals show, featured on SJSHARKS.com beginning at 1:30 PM (Pacific).