Wednesday, November 18, 2015

They're Changing The NHL All-Star Game

..we don't quite know how they're changing yet, but all signs point to including everyone's favorite new thing: 3-on-3.

TSN's Bob McKenzie detailed a bunch of possible changes, the short version being converting a 60-minute scrimmage into a bracket of 20 minute 3-on-3 games between Division All-Star Teams.

The biggest issue, of course, is whether anyone will actually try. Bob mentions a cash prize at the end for the team to split up - he says $1 million, but between 10+ players that's basically nothing.

I'd offer a different alternative: keep the cash prize the same, but have each team playing for a charity they support. There are a handful of big-name players that have their own foundations (and causes they support), and I get the feeling that's more incentive than an extra paycheck. Even if you want to split the pot 60/20/10/10 to make sure everyone gets a piece, charity is always a good thing.

We could also turn the charity side of it into a piece of the weekend's festivities, and have a segment of the game's pre-show documenting the All-Stars visiting their respective charities and helping out (and hopefully lighting a fire under their asses to win the money).

Bob suggests 9 skaters and 2 goalies from each division. I'd bump it up to 12 skaters because, let's be honest, three lines isn't enough to realistically play 20 minutes of breakneck 3-on-3 hockey. Bumping the total number of All-Stars from 44 to 56 isn't the end of the world, and screw you if you think that's the deal-breaker. Let's all agree on a minimum of one All-Star from each NHL team.

My first thought as a Flyers fan was "Hey The Metro Might Actually Be Good Here!" Let's look at who would be competing, and we'll work our way West to East to keep you on your toes (FYI, I'd have the West on one side of the bracket and the East on the other):

Pacific Division

Jonathan Quick (LA), Martin Jones (SJ)
These two would be locks. I hope all the divisions are this easy.

Taylor Hall (EDM),  Johnny Gaudreau (CGY), Joe Pavelski (SJ), Daniel Sedin (VAN), Jeff Carter (LA)
The top five point scorers in the division, and I'd find it hard to believe anyone has a real problem with them.

Tyler Toffoli (LA), Max Domi (ARI), Anthony Duclair (ARI), Sean Monahan (CGY)
All top ten in goals scored, and again I can't see anyone having an issue.

Brent Burns (SJ), Drew Doughty (LA), Oliver Ekman-Larsson (ARI)
Top three defensemen in terms of points scored and time on ice. Boom. Easy.

That's 4 Kings, 3 Sharks, 1 Canuck, 3 Coyotes, 0 Ducks, 2 Flames, and 1 Oiler. Realistically, one of the Getzlaf/Kesler/Perry trio should replace Duclair. Maybe the Ducks will be better before the All-Star break. They've been very unlucky, especially Kesler (who's currently sporting a 95.98 PDO, per War On Ice),

This team doesn't scare me at all because I am from the East Coast and the West Coast doesn't matter.

(*Editor's note: Admittedly, I don't really follow the West. If you want to pick the biggest names instead of who's had the most success this year, you'd take Kopitar/Doughty/Quick from LA, Jones/Burns and one of Marleau/Pavelski/Thornton from San Jose, The Sedin Twins, Domi, Getzlaf/Perry/Fowler from Anaheim, Gaudreau, and you'd make one of the other Edmonton first overall picks wear a McDavid jersey and pretend Brandon Manning didn't kill the actual Connor McDavid.)

Central Division

Pekka Rinne (NSH), Jake Allen (STL)
You can also make pretty solid cases for Minnesota's Devan Dubnyk and Dallas' Kari Lehtonen. Ultimately, Dubnyk falls just short and Lehtonen hasn't played enough of his team's games.

Patrick Kane (CHI), Tyler Seguin (DAL), Jamie Benn (DAL), Blake Wheeler (WPG)
Same as the Pacific, I just listed off the top point scorers. Wowwee. What a lineup.

Vladamir Tarasenko (STL), Zach Parise (MIN), Jonathan Toews (CHI)
All three of these guys are in the top 20 in the division in goals, but let's be honest - they're all All-Stars regardless of their production.

Shea Weber (NSH), Dustin Byfuglien (WPG), Ryan Suter (MIN), Duncan Keith (CHI)
That is an unbelievably good group of defensemen.

That's only 11 guys, but I wanted to make sure I split it up evenly. It's 2 Stars, 2 Predators, 2 Blues, 2 Wild, 3 Blackhawks, 2 Jets, and 0 Avalanche.

So the last spot goes to Nathan MacKinnon or Matt Duchene or Gabriel Landeskog - take your pick but you can only have one. I'm still bitter about that Flyers game.

Atlantic Division

I'm going to rely less on stats here because I actually know some stuff about the teams in the East. Let's go team-by-team.

Canadiens: Max Pacioretty and PK Subban are locks, as is Carey Price (/his backup Mike Condon, who may or may not be Price in disguise). Brendan Gallagher, Thomas Plekanec, David Desharnais, and Andrei Markov could all be considered as well. The Habs are having a killer start to the season.

Senators: Erik Karlsson and Mark Stone have been racking up assists, and Bobby Ryan and Kyle Turris are scoring goals. Craig Anderson is firmly in the second tier of Atlantic Divison goalies (behind Price, of course).

Red Wings: Again with the fucking Red Wings. It's hard to argue against Henrik Zetterberg, Gustav Nyquist, and Dylan Larkin. Tomas Tatar is also right there. They have no standout defensemen and their goalies split time so I'm keeping them both out. Good. Hate the Red Wings.

Panthers: Jaromir Jagr (born in the month when the FCC regulated that TV providers must carry at least 20 channels - twenty! So goddamn old!) leads this team in goals and points. There are a bunch of no-names that are having decent years, but the next men in line after Jagr are Aaron Ekblad and Roberto Luongo (who is also older than dirt).

Lightning: Stamkos. Hedman. Johnson. We have to draw the line somewhere. Ben Bishop is also in the second tier of goalies.

Bruins: David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron have to be locks for this team. Zdeno Chara is the big name on defense, but Torey Krug has arguably been even better than the big man this year. Tuukka Rask... oops. Should not have drafted for my fantasy team.

Sabres: I'm hesitant to put anyone on this All-Star team except Jack Eichel. Maybe Buffalo will put it together next year! (Right, Buffalo fans?)

Maple Leafs: How could any team be worse than the Sabres, you ask? How about a team with a middle-of-the-pack goalie and a ballot of Dion Phaneuf, Tyler Bozak, James van Riemsdyk, Morgan Rielly, and Joffrey Lupul? Woof.

The team: Pacioretty, Ryan, Zetterberg, Nyquist, Jagr, Stamkos, Krejci, Bergeron, Eichel, Subban, Karlsson, Hedman, Price, Reimer. That's 2 Habs, 2 Senators, 2 Wings, 1 Panther, 2 Lightning, 2 Bruins, 1 Sabre, and 1 Maple Leaf.

Metropolitan Division

And now, the moment you've been waiting for - your Metro Divison All-Star Lines!

Alex Ovechkin (WSH), John Tavares (NYI), Mats Zuccarello (NYR), Claude Giroux (PHI), Mike Cammalleri (NJD), Evgeni Malkin (PIT), Brandon Saad (CBJ)

Justin Faulk (CAR), Ryan McDonagh (NYR), John Carlson (WSH), Kris Letang (PIT)

Henrik Lundqvist (NYR), Braden Holtby (WSH)

That's 3 Rangers, 3 Capitals, 1 Islander, 1 Penguin, 1 Devil, 1 Flyer, 1 Hurricane, and 1 BJ.

(*Editor's note: The Metro is a loaded division. This hypothetical team is leaving off Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom, TJ Oshie, Kyle Okposo, Johnny Boychuk, Jake Voracek, Shayne Gostisbehere (kidding?), Keith Yandle, Rick Nash, Derick Brassard, Scott Hartnell, Nick Foligno, Adam Henrique, Eric Staal, Phil Kessel, and Sidney Fucking Crosby. In real life, I'd swap Crosby for Carlson.)

The Bracket

I think the Central has a pretty easy time beating the shit out of the Pacific.

The East side is a little more hairy, and as a Metro fan it'd be really nice if we didn't have to include New Jersey or Columbus. Ultimately I don't really know which way it would end up, but I know I'd love to watch those two squads face off, and I'd love to watch the Central team beat them in the final even more.

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