2017 NHL All-Star Skills Competition
January 28, 2017 - 7:00 pm ET
Staples Center - Los Angeles, CA
Watch on NBCSN, NBC Sports app and online stream
For many fans, the Skills Competition is the most exciting portion of All-Star Weekend. This year, it’s mostly the same as it has been in years past, with a couple of changes. Gone is the much-beloved breakaway challenge, replaced by the “Four Line Challenge” that will be familiar to anyone who’s seen intermission entertainment at an NHL game over the years.
Here’s what to expect tonight from Los Angeles. Justin Faulk will be participating in the puck control portion of the relay, plus potentially in the shootout (more on that below). For the rosters and which players have been assigned to what events, head right this way.
(One terminology note: this article uses the term “competition point” to differentiate from points within individual skills challenges. Competition points are the ones that are added up to determine the divisions which will participate in the shootout at the end of the night.)
NHL Skills Challenge Relay
From the NHL:
This timed relay event – involving seven skaters and one goalie from each team – will consist of four relays with five challenges each: (1) One Timers, with three shooters and one passer per team; (2) Passing, with one passer per team; (3) Puck Control, with one skater per team; (4) Stick-Handling, with one skater per team; and (5) Goalie Goals, with one goalie per team. Each skill must be completed before moving on to the next challenge with the exception of one timers (a maximum of 30 seconds will be allocated), passing (a maximum of 45 seconds will be allocated) and goalie goals (a maximum of 30 seconds will be allocated). The goal is to finish all five challenges faster than the opponent.
And the five events involved in the relay are:
- One Timers: Three shooters and one passer per team. Each shooter gets 30 seconds to score a one-timer.
- Passing accuracy: Each shooter will try to make a pass into the infamous mini-nets and has 45 seconds to hit as many nets as possible.
- Puck control: Players will have to maintain control of the puck while skating through a series of cones.
- Stick-handling: Players will have to stickhandle a puck through a series of closely-placed cones.
- Goalie goals: Goalies will stand in the crease and attempt to hit an empty net at the other end of the ice, and will try to score two goals. The clock will stop after 30 seconds or after the second goal is scored, whichever is earlier.
The winning division in each conference will earn one competition point. The division with the lowest overall time will earn a bonus point.
Four Line Challenge
New this year, here’s how it works, from the NHL:
This event involves four shooters from each team. Each shooter will shoot from one of four shooting positions; near blue line, center line, far blue line and far goal line.
The first shooter from each team takes two shots from the near blue line in an attempt to score goals in either the upper left or upper right corner of the net. Successful shots score one point for their team.
The second shooter from each team takes two shots from center ice in an attempt to score goals in one of the four corners of the net. Successful shots in the lower corners score one point and successful shots in the upper corners score three points for their team.
The third shooter from each team takes two shots from the far blue line in an attempt to score a goal in one of the four corners of the net or the five hole. Successful shots in the lower corners or five hole score one point and successful shots in the upper corners score five points for their team.
The fourth shooter from each team takes two shots from the far goal line in an attempt to score a goal in the five hole. Successful shots score 10 points for their team. Captains can substitute the fourth shooter with a goalie. A successful shot by a goalie is awarded 20 points for their team.
The team with the most points at the end of the challenge earns one competition point. In addition, the first All-Star to score two goals in the five hole from the far goal line will win a brand new 2017 Honda CR-V.
Accuracy Shooting Challenge
An old standby returns this year, from the NHL:
Two shooters from each team will participate, with two additional players serving as passers. This event will consist of four head-to-head match-ups, with one shooter from each team per round.
The goal is to hit four 15- inch diameter targets located in each corner of the net. The teams will be situated at opposite ends of the rink, and will alternate attempts. The shooter to hit all four targets in the fastest time wins.
The winner of each head to head matchup will earn one competition point for his division. The player with the fastest time will earn a bonus point, and if that time breaks Daniel Sedin’s record of 7.3 seconds, they will earn an additional bonus point.
Just what it says: skate faster than the other guy. From the NHL:
Two players from each team will test their speed, facing off against an opponent in a two-skater race. The race track for the head-to-head match-ups is the border of the rink split in half lengthways. Timing devices will record each skater to determine the winner of each match. If a race ends in a tie, each of the teams will be awarded one point.
The skater with the fastest time in the head-to-head match-ups will skate a full lap of the outside border of the rink, in the direction of their choosing, in an attempt to break Dylan Larkin’s record (13.172 seconds). If, at the completion of the event, two skaters are tied for the fastest overall time, both skaters will skate a full lap of the rink in an attempt to break the historical best record.
The winner of each heat will earn one competition point for his division. The fastest overall skater will earn a bonus point, and if that skater breaks Larkin’s record in the bonus round, he will earn an additional bonus point.
Yep. From the NHL:
Two shooters from each team will test their slap shot skill in a head-to-head match-up. Each player will attempt two shots, with teams alternating after each player. One puck will be placed 30 feet from the center of the net. Each shot will be calculated in miles per hour (mph), with the highest speed of their two shots recorded.
The winner of each matchup will earn one competition point for his division. The hardest overall shot will earn a bonus point, and if that shot breaks Zdeno Chara’s record of 108.8 mph, it will earn an additional bonus point.
OK, this is where it gets a little complicated, so bear with us here. (Leave it to the NHL to have a shootout competition with more confusion than the U.S. tax code.)
Unlike in the past, when all four divisions participated in the shootout competition, this year the top division from each conference will face off against each other. So, either the Metro or the Atlantic - whoever has more competition points from the first five skills - versus either the Central or Pacific - again, whoever has more competition points.
Here’s the NHL’s take on things:
Nine skaters and two goaltenders from each of the top-scoring teams from the Eastern Conference and Western Conference will participate. Captains of respective teams will choose one additional skater from the other team in their conference.
The scoreboard will be reset to 0-0 prior to the start of the Discover NHL Shootout. Goals scored count as one point. The captains' selections from the losing teams will be designated Discover puck players, and goals scored by these players will count as two points.
Goalies will switch after every five shooters. NHL shootout rules apply to each scoring attempt. If the teams are tied after 10 shooters, the shootout will continue in a sudden death format until a winner is determined. The Captains will select their next shooter before each shot. Players are eligible to shoot multiple times, without restriction.
So, let’s go over where this is confusing:
- The scoreboard is reset. Which seems to indicate that this is like the home run derby in baseball, where the winner of the shootout contest is the winner of the skills competition as a whole. But this is a change from the past, where the shootout points were added to the competition points from the previous skills.
- Nine skaters (plus one from the other division in the conference) will participate, but players are eligible to shoot multiple times, and captains will select their shooters round by round. So does everyone shoot or not? Could, say, Sidney Crosby pick himself to shoot ten times in a row, or does everyone have to get a shot before he can go twice? The rules aren’t clear.
- More to the point, what’s stopping a captain from picking the two-point player every time to try to get more points for his side?
The NHL also says this:
The Division winner of the 2017 Coors Light NHL All-Star Skills Competition will earn the right to select both their first opponent and when their 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Game semi-final matchup will be played; first or second at Sunday's 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Game.
So we think what will happen is this: the scoreboard is wiped clean of all previous competition points, and the division that wins the shootout will win the skills competition and will select their opponent and the game order for Sunday.
But we can easily see a scenario where, say, the Metro is up 11-8 on the Pacific before the shootout, and the Pacific wins the shootout 6-5, both teams lay claim to a victory, everyone is confused as hell and Bud Selig shows up and declares a tie.
Basically, this could all become a big mess, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy!