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NHL All-Star Game 2016: Match-ups, things to watch for

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL has tried a number of things to get people interested in the the mid-winter exhibition to watch the NHL's best players gather and play together. From a standard Eastern Conference vs Western Conference match-up, a North America versus The World experiment, to fantasy, the NHL will now feature a 3-on-3 tournament.

The teams are divided by division (Atlantic, Metropolitan, Central, and Pacific) and each team will feature six forwards, three defensemen, and two goalies. The games will be 20 minutes in duration as the Eastern teams will play first, the Western teams second, until the winners of each face-off in the final round to claim a champion of the first ever 3v3 tourney.

This year's All-Star Game concentration is clearly about celebrating the game and having fun doing so. From the Friday night NHL Nashville Music presentation they, to the skill and fun for hockey displayed Saturday at the NHL Skills Competition, the 3-on-3 tournament is an effort to display speed and skill without taking itself so seriously. That, and John Scott is taking in this moment with every bit of joy you'd expect from a kid, let alone a 6-8 33 year old father of two expecting two more kids shortly and the rest of the noise surrounding his selection to the All-Star Game.

All four teams are incredibly stacked with talent, and the Central features four Nashville players in James Neal, Roman Jodi, Shea Weber, and Pekka Rinne. It also will consist of the Wild's only All-Star rep in Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk had quite the year for himself. From playing himself out of the league just two seasons ago, to a strong season this year, this All-Star selection has to be something special for him and his family. Just another notch in the belt, you could say.

What will be interesting to watch for is the strategies each team will play with in the 3v3 format. So far durung the regular season, it's been about controlling the puck and making line changes when the puck is in control. Since this isn't a sudden death period, it will be even more pertinent to get tired players off the ice. Also, early on, it was all about the counter-punch. The odd-man rushes took place as a team was going back the other way in transition. Expect this tournament to be no different.

Another thing to watch for is your favorite goaltender's groin. Yes, the All-Star game already featured little to no defense at all, and 3v3 offers almost none. It is literally pond hockey with multi-million dollar players on the ice that possess crazy skills with the puck. Goalies will be left out to dry and you hope that none suffers an injury by pulling a muscle.

Here are the match-up for the first two games today:

Atlantic vs Metropolitan


F- Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins

F- Jaromir Jagr *, Florida Panthers

F- Leo Komarov, Toronto Maple Leafs

F- Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings

F- Ryan O-Reilly, Buffalo Sabres

F- Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning

D- Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers

D- Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators

D- P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens

G- Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning

G- Roberto Luongo, Florida Panthers


F- Niklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals

F- Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers

F- Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins

F- Evgeni Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals

F- Brandon Saad, Columbus Blue Jackets

F- John Tavares *, New York Islanders

D- Justin Faulk, Carolina Hurricanes

D- Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins

D- Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers

G- Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals

G- Cory Schneider, New Jersey Devils

Pacific vs Central


F- Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars

F- Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche

F- Patrick Kane *, Chicago Blackhawks

F- James Neal, Nashville Predators

F- Valdimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues

F- Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars

D- Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets

D- Shea Weber, Nashville Predators

D- Roman Josi, Nashville Predators

G- Devan Dubnyk

G- Pekka Rinne


F- Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames

F- Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks

F- Taylor Hall, Edmonton Oilers

F- Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks

F- John Scott *, Central All-Stars

F- Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks

D- Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks

D- Drew Doughty. Los Angeles Kings

D- Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames

G- John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks

G- Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings