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The third edition of the new NHL All-Star Game format takes place Sunday at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.
The NHL switched to a three-on-three tournament involving teams representing each of the four divisions in 2016, with the Pacific Division winning the inaugural contest in the new format. The Metropolitan Division coming out victorious in 2017.
Eastern Conference foes Metropolitan and Atlantic will square off in the first semifinal before the Western Conference semifinal between the Pacific and Central.
The winners of the two semifinals will face off in the final, which will be the third of three 20-minute games.
Date: Sunday, January 28
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
Aleksander Barkov, Florida
Jack Eichel, Buffalo
Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay
Brad Marchand, Boston
Auston Matthews, Toronto
Brayden Point, Tampa Bay
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay
Mike Green, Detroit
Erik Karlsson, Ottawa
Carey Price, Montreal
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay
Patrick Kane, Chicago
Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado
Brayden Schenn, St. Louis
Tyler Seguin, Dallas
Eric Staal, Minnesota
Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg
John Klingberg, Dallas
Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis
P.K. Subban, Nashville
Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg
Pekka Rinne, Nashville
Josh Bailey, New York Islanders
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia
Brian Boyle, New Jersey
Alex Ovechkin, Washington
John Tavares, New York Islanders
Noah Hanifin, Carolina
Zach Werenski, Columbus
Kris Letang, Pittsburgh
Braden Holtby, Washington
Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
Brock Boeser, Vancouver
Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles
Connor McDavid, Edmonton
James Neal, Vegas
Rickard Rakell, Anaheim
Brent Burns, San Jose
Drew Doughty, Los Angeles
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona
Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas
Mike Smith, Calgary
Metropolitan Makes Pair of Late Roster Changes
Right as most of the All-Stars were arriving in Tampa, two alterations were made to the Metropolitan Division roster.
Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones will miss the festivities because of an illness, per the team’s official website.
Zach Werenski will make his first All-Star appearance in place of his teammate and will be the team’s lone representative at the All-Star Game. Werenski offered up his thoughts of being named to the Metropolitan Division team via the Blue Jackets’ official Twitter account.
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The other replacement named to the squad was Brian Boyle of the New Jersey Devils, who will take teammate Taylor Hall’s position on the roster. Hall has been dealing with a hand injury.
The 33-year-old’s story is one of the most inspirational in sports, as he was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia at the beginning of Devils training camp.
Boyle, who didn’t play his first game until November 1, is returning to Tampa Bay, where he spent two-and-a-half seasons with the Lightning.
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Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, who will be behind the bench for the Atlantic Division Sunday, expressed his joy in seeing Boyle on the All-Star roster and noted the reaction he will receive from the fans, per Bryan Burns of the Lightning’s official website.
A total of four changes have been made to the original rosters, with Calgary’s Mike Smith replacing Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick as one of the Pacific Division goalies and the Lightning’s Brayden Point taking teammate Victor Hedman’s place in the Atlantic Division squad.
Central Division Looking to Make 1st All-Star Final in New Format
Since the NHL switched the All-Star Game to a three-on-three tournament, with teams representing each of the four divisions, only the Central Division hasn’t won a game.
In 2016, the Central lost a 9-6 semifinal game to the Pacific Division, with James Neal scoring two goals on home ice as a then-member of the Nashville Predators.
A year ago at Staples Center in Los Angeles, the Central team dropped a 10-3 result to the Pacific, as only P.K. Subban, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jonathan Toews found the back of the net.
Subban, the Chicago Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane and the Dallas Stars’ Tyler Seguin are the experienced All-Stars looking to exact revenge on the Pacific for their losses in previous seasons.
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Despite the star power on its roster, the Central only has one player in the top 10 in points in the Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon, who is second to Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov.
What the Central lacks in top-10 scoring, it more than makes up for in goaltending, as it has the best combination of netminders in terms of goals-against average, and that’s without league leader Carter Hutton of the St. Louis Blues and Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Winnipeg Jets’ Connor Hellebuyck is sixth in the league with a 2.35 goals-against average, while the Nashville Predators’ Pekka Rinne is seventh with the same average.
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After giving up 19 goals to the Pacific in the past two years, look for Hellebuyck and Rinne to keep the score down and help the Central move into its first All-Star final under the new format.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.