On Wednesday, the NHL announced the rosters for the 2016 All-Star Game, which will be played on January 31 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, home of the Predators. The Washington Capitals will send three players and their head coach to All-Star Weekend. The NHL decided to switch the format up this year with the All-Star Game. Instead of the traditional 5-on-5 exhibition contest, it will be a 3-on-3 tournament format. The teams are comprised by the four divisions, with each roster having six forwards, three defensemen and two goalies. A player from of each team in the divisions will be represented. The games will 20 minutes long with a three-round shootout if the game is tied after 20 minutes are up. The Atlantic and Metropolitan divisions will play one another while the Central and Pacific will square off with the winners advancing to the championship game. This is a different format from year’s past, but it seems like something that could catch on and be really fun to watch.
Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Braden Holtby and head coach Barry Trotz will be representing the Capitals and the Metropolitan division in Nashville on the last day of January. Ovechkin was one of the four fan-voted captains for the respective divisions, which says a lot about the superstar’s popularity among fans throughout the world and league. He has been in seven All-Star Games since the 2006-2007 season. On the season he has 21 goals and 13 assists thus far.
Backstrom has one point more than Ovechkin with 11 goals and 24 assists. This will be his first All-Star Game, something he was surprised to find out when the rosters were revealed. He is arguably one of the league’s most underrated or overlooked players and deserves the recognition. Holtby has been a monster in net for the Caps this season. He is 25-4 with a league-leading .932 save percentage and 1.93 goals against average. The 26-year old has this team in a position to make a serious run at Lord Stanley’s Cup this season.
Barry Trotz has done a fantastic job this season, leading the Caps to a 29-7-3 record and a league-high 61 points. Trotz returns to Nashville, where he spent 15 seasons as the head coach before getting hired by Washington in April of 2014. It should be a nice little homecoming for Trotz and a nice treat to get to coach in the first All-Star Game under the new format.
All 44 players will take part in the Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Saturday night.
On January 31, 2016, the fans in attendance at the Bridgestone Arena will witness history and likely get a good show that will hopefully catch on and draw in more viewers to hockey. The 3-on-3 format seems like a great, new concept that should be filled with excitement as 3-on-3 hockey is something you don’t often see.