The 2022 NHL All-Star weekend is here! This year brings new outdoor events in the Discover NHL Fountain Face-Off™ and the Las Vegas NHL 21 in ‘22™ as well as classics in the hardest shot, fastest skater, save streak, breakaway challenge, and accuracy shooting. The skills competition takes place on Friday, February 4, and the All-Star Game on Saturday, February 5. With the number of roster changes from COVID protocol and injuries, let’s look at each team and see which has the best chance of taking home the prize.
The All-Star Game format is a tournament of three games played in 3 on 3 format. Each team will have six forwards, three defensemen, and two goaltenders playing. The two Eastern Conference teams play each other, and the two Western Conference teams play. The winners of those contests will then play each other to determine the champion.
The final scores for the 2020 All-Star Game were 9-5 (Atlantic-Metropolitan), 10-5 (Pacific-Central), and 5-4 (Pacific-Atlantic). Each game was played in two, ten-minute periods. Goaltenders would probably not want to risk their bodies and hurt themselves while not playing for their NHL team so goal scoring vastly overpowers goaltending. We’ll look at puck movers, goal scorers, and overall offensive potential on each team.
3v3 hockey is familiar from overtime games in the regular season. Players have a lot of open ice and space to work with where creative minds can flourish.
The Pacific looks formidable. It has Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, which is a lethal duo for the Edmonton Oilers and both are potent goal scorers. Johnny Gaudreau has 54 points in 42 games and Timo Meir has been on a tear this season with 47 points and 21 goals. While this division only has one defenseman, Alex Pietrangelo can help create offense. The goalies are both excellent especially with Thatcher Demko stealing many games for this season’s Vancouver Canucks.
Looking at defensemen, the Central has Roman Josi and Cale Makar. Josi won the Norris Trophy in 2020 while Cale Makar is widely regarded as elite. Both are known for their offensive production and puck-moving ability. Nazem Kadri is currently tied for third in points in the league. Alex DeBrincat is fifth in goals while Kyle Connor is tied for sixth. Kirill Kaprizov has only gotten better from his rookie breakout and overall this group is impressive.
Captain America will be captain of the Central Division. The Dallas Stars’ Joe Pavelski will bring his intelligence and elite hockey vision which has made him so successful on the Star’s top line to the tournament. It’ll be fun to see if his famous tipping skills come in handy or if maybe he’ll snipe some.
The Metropolitan has some exciting players. Chris Kreider is leading the league in goals, Frederik Andersen is having a Vezina conversation season, and Jack Hughes is just starting to unlock his potential. Sebastian Aho is offensively dynamic but the team overall does not pack as much of a punch as the others. Alexander Ovechkin going on COVID protocol definitely impacts this team’s goal-scoring ability.
The Atlantic has the reigning Rocket Richard winner in Auston Matthews. Jonathan Huberdeau is having a monster season with 64 points in 47 games, which leads the NHL in points. Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevskiy are both recent Conn Smythe winners. Dylan Larkin is also having a resurgent season after his injury in mid-2021, playing slightly over a point per game pace.
All of this considered I think the Atlantic will beat the Metropolitan. Then whichever team comes out of the Central and Pacific matchup will go on to win the tournament. The Western All-Star teams have a bit more firepower with how they were selected, and it’ll be a toss-up between them. But who knows? Hockey is unpredictable and that’s why it’s fun to watch the games to see who is crowned champion in the end.