All-star games in sports are often nothing more than spectacle, some reduced to gimmicks to entice people to enjoy the game. Some of the gimmicks are fun—the MLS all-stars playing an elite European club, for instance, is pretty cool—while others, like the MLB All-Star Game dictating home-field advantage in the World Series, is just ridiculous.
The NHL All-Star Game is always one of the better exhibitions out there, however. The game opens up a bit, as less emphasis is placed on defense and the game's most exciting superstars put on a show. That always makes for good theater, and this year should be no exception.
Below, you'll find all the information you need to prep for this year's event. Enjoy the festivities.
When: Sunday, Jan. 25 at 5 p.m. ET
Where: Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio
Watch: NBC Sports Network
Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
|2015 NHL All-Star Rosters|
|Team Toews||Position||Team Foligno|
|Corey Crawford (Chicago)||G||Carey Price (Montreal)|
|Roberto Luongo (Florida)||G||Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh)|
|Jaroslav Halak (New York Islanders)||G||Brian Elliott (St. Louis)|
|Shea Weber (Nashville)||D||Duncan Keith (Chicago)|
|Brent Seabrook (Chicago)||D||Drew Doughty (Los Angeles Kings)|
|Aaron Ekblad (Florida)||D||Dustin Byfuglien (Winnipeg)|
|Ryan Suter (Minnesota)||D||Brent Burns (San Jose)|
|Mark Giordano (Calgary)||D||Kevin Shattenkirk (St. Louis)|
|Justin Faulk (Carolina)||D||Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Arizona)|
|Jonathan Toews (Chicago; Captain)||F||Nick Foligno (Columbus; Captain)|
|Jakub Voracek (Philadelphia)||F||Anze Kopitar (Los Angeles)|
|Tyler Seguin (Dallas Stars; Acquired via trade)||F||Ryan Johansen (Columbus)|
|Rick Nash (New York Rangers)||F||Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay)|
|Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim)||F||Phil Kessel (Toronto; Acquired via trade)|
|John Tavares (New York Islanders)||F||Patrick Kane (Chicago)|
|Vladimir Tarasenko (St. Louis)||F||Claude Giroux (Philadelphia)|
|Patrice Bergeron (Boston)||F||Bobby Ryan (Ottawa)|
|Patrick Elias (New Jersey)||F||Radim Vrbata (Vancouver)|
|Tyler Johnson (Tampa Bay)||F||Zemgus Girgensons (Buffalo)|
|Mike Hoffman (Ottawa)||F||Alex Ovechkin (Washington)|
|Filip Forsberg (Nashville)||F||Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton)|
For starters, you can bet that there will be plenty of goals. While we haven't seen this game in two years (the lockout stole the game from fans in 2013, while last year's game was cancelled due to the Sochi Olympics), the winning team has scored 10 or more goals in four of the last five contests.
So if you like a high-scoring, end-to-end style of game over a more physical, defensive battle, this is the game for you.
The players tend to have a bit of fun with the game and don't take it overly seriously. Which isn't to say that the competitive juices don't get pumping eventually—even in exhibitions, professional athletes eventually starting getting the itch to go for the win—but the game always is pretty relaxed.
When Chicago Blackhawks star and one of the captains of the game, Jonathan Toews, starts talking about having fun at the event, via Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune, well, you remember this is just an exhibition:
The five of us going [from the Blackhawks], we're going to enjoy it. We have a couple of guys [Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford] going for their first time so that will be a lot of fun to share that with them. I don't think it's meant to be a completely serious weekend. You want to showcase your skills and represent your team in the right fashion, but not put as much pressure on yourself maybe as you would with your regular team.
Toews' team should be fun to watch. He has the NHL's leader in points (Philadelphia's Jakub Voracek, with 56), the league's leader in goals (Dallas' Tyler Seguin, with 28) and a fun potential defensive pair in Ryan Suter and Shea Weber, former teammates.
Voracek, in particular, is a player to watch, as the 25-year-old has really emerged this season. Sam Carchidi of The Philadelphia Inquirer has more on his breakthrough campaign:
Voracek's emergence started when he lost 10 pounds by using a non-carb diet and an offseason workout regimen that improved his already-fast speed. He and [Claude] Giroux have combined for 107 points, making them the highest scoring pair of teammates in the NHL.
'It's a duo that's hard to shut down,' said goalie Steve Mason, who was also Voracek's teammate in Columbus. 'Jake's in a position now where he's no longer playing under the radar for the type of player he is. He's controlling games out there, and at this level that's not easy to do.'
Of course, Nick Foligno's squad is nothing to sneeze at. NHL fans are quite familiar with the squad's firepower on offense, including Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, Patrick Kane and Giroux, a scary quartet indeed.
It's that quartet that should lead Team Foligno to victory in a game that should be a high-scoring, fun affair. To this point, the players have really made All-Star Weekend fun, from a quip-filled draft to a quirky and entertaining breakaway challenge that had the fans roaring in laughter.
There's no reason to believe that the fun will end once the game begins. Team Foligno will win in a goal-infused contest, 12-10.