Every year, the NHL All-Star Game leaves a lot to be desired. Nobody wants to play defense, many of the players are "tired" from the weekend and effort is largely reserved for the offensive end of the ice.
So to make the game interesting, it's fun to dig deeper into the game than the final score. Here are a few prop bets to consider with your friends while watching the game this weekend.
The 2012 NHL All-Star Game is being played in the capital of Canada, but a lot of news has been made in the United States' capital in the last couple weeks.
First, Tim Thomas blew off the Bruins' celebration at the White House. He released a statement with the naive expectation that he wouldn't have to answer another question about the situation, and has said that it wasn't a direct shot at President Obama, but the fact is that he personally overshadowed the team's celebration.
Then Alexander Ovechkin was suspended for a dumb, cheap play and subsequently decided to blow off attending the league's All-Star Game. (Full Disclosure: I don't think suspended players should be eligible for the Game, but the league should make that decision, not the player.) He has now made news for removing himself from the roster.
Which debacle gets more play from the broadcast team on Sunday?
"Patrick Kane, of course, is one of many players who played for the London Knights."
"Tyler Seguin from the Plymouth Whalers."
"Logan Couture played his junior hockey right here with the Ottawa 67's."
It's pretty impressive that Pierre knows where every single player played his college/junior/pre-NHL hockey. Does it improve/add anything to the broadcast? Not really. But it's impressive.
Usually it doesn't take long for the scoring to start in these games, and once the flood gates are open, it seems like almost everyone has to have a point or two before the game is over.
But who's the guy that breaks the seal?
Smart money might be on one of the hometown Sens, but there are plenty of great players to choose from.
There is a lot of offensive firepower on the blue line in this game, and after the hardest shot every year, nobody wants to get in front of Zdeno Chara or Shea Weber in the All-Star Game. But with some really smooth skaters also in the field this year, including Brian Campbell and Erik Karlsson, it could open up the scoring for defensemen as well.
But how many goals will be scored by defensemen in the game?
With teammates like Kris Letang and Scott Hartnell, there might be a shampoo shortage in Team Alfredsson's dressing room. But there might not be a prettier head of hair in professional sports than the Rangers' netminder.
Each team has three goalies, each will play a period. Can Lundqvist get out of the game without his hair being spoiled?
With some of the best skaters on the planet wearing the blue of Team Chara, a figure skating contest could break out in the middle of the always-defenseless All-Star Game.
Patrick Kane has copied his mentor in Chicago, Denis Savard, and owns a lethal spin-o-rama. But defenseman Brian Campbell has been known to put it on spin cycle now and again, and Pavel Datsyuk is a magician on the ice as well.
In the game this year, one roster is loaded with players from two specific teams.
Team captain Daniel Alfredsson selected teammates Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and Erik Karlsson to skate with him on their home ice.
But he also selected both Daniel and Henrik Sedin, as well as Alex Edler from the Vancouver Canucks.
Which regular roster will contribute more points in the game? Can the four Senators out-produce the three Canucks?
Close your eyes and just imagine...the game has started, the first set of forwards heads for the first line change...and there's Pierre between the benches.
"Obviously, this game is missing Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby."
In the eyes of the league (and most fans), the best six goaltenders in the game will be tested by the best (healthy) scorers on the planet.
The problem for goalies in this game, though, is that nobody plays any defense. As we said earlier, once the hardest shot contest is in the books, blocked shots are out the window and hitting isn't on the radar at all.
So which one of these guys gives up the most goals?
Forget the fact that he's a class player and is still playing at a high level, based on the comments made about him, you would assume the only thing Iginla has done in the last 10 years is score one goal—his 500th.
So how many times will the desperate-for-material broadcast team bring up the remarkable milestone during the game?
It's always hard for coaches to hand out ice time in a game like this, and certainly the fans want to see the "bigger" names on the ice more often. And the guy picked last always has eyes on him, so Logan Couture might get as much time on the ice as he had in the green room on Thursday night.
But the odds-on favorite to get the least amount of ice time is Benn, who is just now returning from having his appendix taken out. He probably isn't 100 percent yet, and the Stars certainly don't want the face of their franchise getting injured in a worthless exhibition.
Obviously, concussions have become the epidemic that is the league's plague. With some of the best players on the globe missing from action because of concussions, it will obviously be brought up during the telecast.
But how many times can they mention it during 60 minutes of hockey?
There isn't a lot of defense played in the game, but lazy play leads to easy penalties. Tripping, hooking and too many men are the primary culprits when it comes to how guys avoiding defense can get caught up.
But how many penalties will refs allowing lazy play to happen call in a game that doesn't matter?
He's everywhere, and an event like the All-Star Game presents a forum where he can have more access to players and coaches.
Whether or not that's a good thing is...in the eyes and ears of the viewer.
But there have been a few times in the last few years where players have given Pierre the business. Will someone give him a hard time this weekend? Probably. But how many players will make his job harder?
It's always hard to handicap the race for MVP in the All-Star Game; who would have picked Patrick Sharp last year? But many around the NHL consider Malkin to be a front-runner for the Hart Trophy, and he's playing at such a high level already that skating against shadow defense will only make his life easier.
Add to his remarkable ability the fact that he could be on a line with unselfish future Hall of Famers Pavel Datsyuk and Marian Hossa, and he could have a hat trick before the third period begins.
Will Malkin run away with the MVP?