Into the Boards: Outdoor Hockey and Our All-Star Game Selections!
Hello there, hockey fans! For all of our friends who celebrated holidays last week (or are continuing their celebrations this week), we hope you had a splendid time. Given the shortened week in the NHL due to the holiday break, we’re going to do a special edition of ITB today that will cover the upcoming outdoor game festivities as well as the rapidly approaching NHL All-Star game. We’ll go through who our All-Star team picks would be for each division and take a look at Sunday’s Centennial Classic and Monday’s Winter Classic. Let’s get into it!
Pond Hockey Party
This Sunday is New Year’s Day, otherwise known as the day after New Year’s Eve during which you nurse your worst hangover of the year. However, if you’re a hockey fan, New Year’s Day means you’ll be glued to your TV to watch the annual NHL Winter Classic… only this year, you will be watching the NHL Centennial Classic (for some reason).
In celebration of 100 years of NHL hockey, the league has pitted the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs against each other (yet again) in an original-six showdown. While I’m not particularly psyched on seeing a rematch of the 2014 Winter Classic, I can’t help but be excited to watch Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and Willie Nylander on the big outdoor stage on national television. Outdoor hockey is an excellent draw for casual fans and it’ll be great for the NHL for less involved fans to see some of the league’s most exciting players. So wake up sometime around 2pm, grab a Gatorade and some aspirin, and sit down to catch the game.
On the off chance that you sleep away the entire holiday and miss the Centennial Classic, fear not, for Monday (on New Year’s Day “Observed,” whatever the hell that really means) is the annual NHL Winter Classic. This year’s Classic will have the St. Louis Blues hosting the Chicago Blackhawks at Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals.
It’ll be the first time the St. Louis Blues are appearing in an outdoor game and probably like the 620th time for Chicago. Clearly the NHL feels it hasn’t adequately beaten the dead horse that is the Blackhawks playing outside, but it will still be cool to catch the Blues finally getting their crack at it.
Despite the novelty of the whole thing, the game will have serious implications for the Central Division where the Blues currently sit six points behind Chicago. I’m feeling a Blues win in this one, only because the ice will almost definitely be bad in the warm St. Louis conditions and the Blackhawks’ pretty game may not translate all that well. That being said, a handful of Chicago’s guys have a good bit of experience in these outdoor shindigs, so perhaps that will help them adjust quickly. Regardless, take off work if your employer isn’t closed on Monday and check this one out at 1pm Eastern.
All-Star Team Selections
We’ve taken a few minutes to piece together our 11-man All-Star rosters for each division. Comment below to tell us what you may have done differently!
1. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues
2. Patrik Laine, Winnipeg Jets
3. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
4. Artemi Panarin, Chicago Blackhawks
5. Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
6. Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars
1. P.K. Subban, Nashville Predators
2. Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks
3. Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis Blues
1. Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators
2. Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild
Pure sniper. Patrik Laine is one of the most fun players in NHL and the ASG will be no different for him.
Ohhhhhhhh P.K. I don’t think I need to explain why Subban will be fun to watch in the ASG.
1. Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
2. Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
3. Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks
4. Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
5. Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks
6. Jeff Carter, Los Angeles Kings
1. Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks
2. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona Coyotes
3. Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
1. Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks,
2. Chad Johnson, Calgary Flames
Check out the speed and puck control of Connor McDavid here. The guy is absolutely built for 3 on 3 and will be a tremendous amount of fun to watch at the ASG.
Johnny G. splits the defense and fights off the backcheck to finish off a real sick PPG. Can you imagine him on a line with McDavid? Wow.
1. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburg Penguins
2. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
3. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburg Penguins
4. Cam Atkinson, Columbus Blue Jackets
5. Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers
6. John Tavares, New York Islanders
1. Zach Werenski, Columbus Blue Jackets
2. Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers
3. Justin Falk, Carolina Hurricanes
1. Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets
2. Brayden Holtby, Washington Capitals
Many people forget about Wayne Simmonds in the Metro Division because of its surplus of superstar forwards. But Wayne continues to put the team on his back in Philly, always playing excellent two-way hockey, stepping up in key moments, and he’s never afraid to drop the gloves. I believe this year’s ASG is his time to shine.
Ryan McDonagh has always been the New York Rangers’ prized Defenseman holding down the blue line. This year Mc is finding a way to consistently put points on the board, and I think he would be a key element for the Metro team.
1. Austin Mathews, Toronto Maple Leafs
2. Max Pacioretty, Montréal Canadians
3. David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins
4. Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
5. Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning
6. Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers
1. Shea Weber, Montréal Canadians
2. Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
3. Rasmus Ristolainen, Buffalo Sabres
1. Carey Price, Montréal Canadians
2. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins
I’m never shy in showing love for my mega-homie Carey Price (I’m sure all you ITB readers know that by now). But with amazing saves like this one, and great consistent play within the pipes, there is no denying this man a starting role at the ASG.
The Pastrnak/Marchand duo has been deadly as of late. The chemistry between these two has been so entertaining to watch and could be even more dangerous with another elite goal scorer in a 3v3 sceneries