Once again this season, the NHL All-Star Game will be a 3-on-3 tournament format between each division. The games will take place in St. Louis this season, home of the 2019 Stanley Cup Champions.
Game one will be between the Metropolitan and Atlantic divisions, while game two will feature the Pacific against the Central.
So far this season, 13 different players are either sitting out for All-Star weekend or are out with injury. With all the replacements, the rosters have been shaken up, but no team is short on talent.
The Metropolitan Division captain was originally Alex Ovechkin, who has decided once again to sit out of All-Star weekend. The Metro division will be missing the most players with injury as well. Six players from the original roster are now replaced.
They still have plenty of talent on the team but are essentially now on their second roster from that division.
The Atlantic Division is led by the NHL’s leading goal-scorer, David Pastrnak. A few other big names that lead the Atlantic Division are Jack Eichel and Mitch Marner, who was voted the last man in.
The Atlantic did take a blow to its roster with the injuries to goaltender Tuukka Rask and forward Auston Matthews. Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevsky will be taking Rask’s spot.
Nathan MacKinnon leads the Central Division this year. The Central has a lot of firepower between MacKinnon, Patrick Kane, and Ryan O’Reilly. They will also have Jordan Binnington in net.
This division is one to keep an eye on simply because it has not had a single player announce that they will not be attending the games this year. David Perron of the Blues was voted as the last man in.
The Pacific is led by captain Connor McDavid, who will have teammate Leon Draisaitl on his team, which should make for a dangerous combination in 3-on-3 competition. The Pacific also has rookie Quinn Hughes on its defense, along with Mark Giordano.
Unfortunately for the Pacific, Marc-Andre Fleury will be out for the All-Star games; he was replaced by Jacob Markstrom of the Canucks.
Picks and Predictions
Last season the 3-on-3 competition was won by the Metropolitan Division in game three by a score of 10-5 over the Central. While the Metro had a strong roster in the beginning this year, with all the players missing the games this season, it appears to be the weakest roster among the four divisions.
In the first game between the Metro and Atlantic divisions, I like the Atlantic to walk away with the win on the back of captain Pastrnak. In the second game between the Central and Pacific, I like the combination of McDavid and Draisaitl to lead the Pacific to the championship game.
I expect the third game to come down to the Atlantic and Pacific Divisions. While the NHL’s goals leader Pastrnak will be tough for the Atlantic, McDavid and Draisaitl should cause problems again in this game.
If the Atlantic still had Rask in net, I would feel more confident about them between the pipes, but the Pacific will also be missing its starting goaltender. Look for a very high-scoring third game, even by 3-on-3 hockey standards. I would put my money on the Pacific to walk away with the championship this season.