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Getting Ready for the NHL All-Star Game

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Are you reading for the 2019 NHL All-Star Game? If not, start getting excited. The game’s happening on Saturday, January 26th in San Jose. A host of other all-star events are scheduled for that weekend as well.

How Does It Work?

Four teams, one for each of the NHL’s divisions, compete in the all-star game. It’s played in 3-on-3 tournament style. The Metropolitan and Atlantic Division will face off in the first 20-minute game, with a 20-minute match between the Central and Pacific Divisions following. The winner of those two games will then play another 20-minute match to determine the champion. The team that prevails splits a $1 million cash prize.

The NHL’s hockey operations chose the majority of the game’s 44 players using four main criteria — having one player from each team, the top 10 to 15 scorers at selection time, as many marketed stars as possible and multiple players from the host team. Fans got to choose each team’s captain, and for the first time, the “last man in” for each team. Each team has two goalies, three defensemen and six forwards.

Who’s Playing?

In late December, the four captains of the teams were announced. Auston Matthews of Toronto will be the captain of the Atlantic Division team, Nathan Mackinnon of Colorado will be the captain of the Central Division team, and Connor McDavid of Edmonton will be captain of the Pacific Division team. Fans chose Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals as the captain of the Metropolitan Division team. Ovechkin, however, informed the NHL that he plans to skip the game to recuperate before the second half of the season. He’ll face a one-game suspension for skipping the game, and the Metropolitan Division will have to choose a new captain.

The winners of the “last man in” votes were Jeff Skinner of Buffalo, Kris Letang of Pittsburgh, Gabriel Landeskog of Colorado and Leon Draisaitl of Edmonton.

The San Jose Sharks have three players in the game — forward Joe Pavelski and defensemen Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns. Karlsson’s status for the game is questionable, though, as he’s currently out with an injury. The Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning also have three players in the game.

For 13 players, this All-Star Game will be their first. Seven of the league’s top 10 scorers were chosen.

What Else Is Going On?

The game itself certainly isn’t the only all-star event happening the weekend of the 26th. The NHL All-Star Skills Competition will take place the night before the game, also at the SAP Center, the home of the San Jose Sharks. The event will consist of six individual competitions, and the winner of each contest will get $25,000. The competitions include:

  • Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater™
  • SAP NHL Hardest Shot™
  • Honda NHL Accuracy Shooting™
  • Ticketmaster NHL Save Streak™
  • Enterprise NHL Premier Passer™
  • Gatorade NHL Puck Control™

Fans can also attend the Fan Fair at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center from January 24-27. The headlining event of the fan fair is the fifth annual NHL Mascot Showdown™ in which 29 NHL Mascots™ will form two teams, one representing each of the league’s conferences, and face off in a game. The fair also includes a scavenger hunt, dodgeball game, dance competition and other activities.

GRAMMY-nominated singer and songwriter Bebe Rexha will perform during the All-Star Game’s second intermission.

How Can I Watch?

The game will air on NBC in the U.S. and on TVA Sports, Sportsnet and CBC in Canada. It will also be live-streamed on fuboTV. The game starts at 5 p.m. PT / 8 p.m. ET on January 26th.

Can the Washington Capitals Repeat?

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The Washington Capitals’ 2018 Stanley Cup victory is one fans will remember for a long time. The 2017-2018 season was the first time the Capitals advanced beyond the second round in the playoffs since 1998.

Now that the victory parade is over, Capitals fans are looking forward to next season. However, they already know there will be changes to the roster and coaching staff during the offseason.

Plus, hockey fans are aware of how difficult it is to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. Before the Pittsburgh Penguins reigning as champions in 2016 and 2017, the previous team to repeat was the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. A repeat tends to happen once per decade, though Capitals fans are hoping they will stray beyond the norm and repeat this past season’s success.

May 4, 2009: Washington Capitals semifinal playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins

A New Coach

It’s not common for a head coach in any sport to resign after winning a championship, especially when they are not retiring. This scenario is exactly what happened with former Capitals Head Coach Barry Trotz, who guided the team to the 2018 Stanley Cup.

On June 18, Caps GM Brian MacLellan announced Trotz was resigning his position, after serving in the head coaching role for the past four seasons. His Stanley Cup victory activated an automatic two-year extension, though the dollar amount was below market value. When Trotz and the Capitals were unable to reach an agreement on his contract extension, Trotz decided to leave the organization. Trotz signed with the New York Islanders as their head coach on June 21.

The identity of the Capitals’ next coach will play a big role in determining their chances to repeat their success. The current frontrunner is Todd Reirden, who spent the previous four seasons on Trotz’s coaching staff, honing the team’s defense. Throughout Reirden’s time with the team, the Capitals allowed 2.45 goals per game, lower than all teams in the NHL but one.

Although Reirden has never been a head coach, his successful track record on defense and familiarity with current Capitals players would make for a seamless transition. The Capitals promoted Reirden to associate coach in August 2016, and have been grooming him for head coach duties since that time. Although Trotz is an excellent coach, Reirden is unlikely to shake up the team’s defense-minded approach, making them a Cup contender in 2019 as long as their roster remains capable.

Next Season’s Roster

Capitals fans are happy with the recent news that elite defenseman John Carlson signed an eight-year extension with the Capitals, worth $64 million. Carlson led all defensemen in scoring with 68 points in 82 games during the 2017-2018 season. Carlson’s presence alongside a likely defense-first head coach ensures the Capitals’ D-corps will remain strong.

The Capitals are also still working on re-signing Devante Smith-Pelly, a 2018 playoffs standout with seven goals and one assist. Michal Kempny, a smart pickup for the Capitals at the trade deadline, has also received an offer from the Capitals, though is attracting interest from other teams. The Capitals are at work to improve their roster, with Carlson’s signing being a great start.

Chances of a Repeat

The Capitals are likely to secure another playoff berth in the 2018-2019 season. Their ability to repeat as Stanley Cup champs hinges on their roster strength, particularly who they re-sign in the coming months, as well as the effectiveness of their new coach.

Betting lines have the Capitals as the sixth likeliest team to win the Stanley Cup next season, behind the Golden Knights, Jets, Maple Leafs, Lightning, Predators and Bruins. Still, none of these teams are substantially ahead in terms of odds, meaning the Capitals are as similarly likely to repeat as the top teams are to win.

Either way, next season should be an exciting one for Capitals fans.