NHL Announces 2016 All-Star Game Goaltenders
The NHL All Star game is a mixed bag for hockey fans.
Some viewers are excited about seeing the skills show and entertaining scrimmages, but just many are annoyed by the lack of a serious air surrounding the weekend. After all, it’s a game for show; goals scored don’t count towards player totals, goaltender saves don’t improve seasonal statistics, and the skills competition is notoriously easygoing and lacks any type of pressure.
The NHL announced the 40 players nominated to the four All Star rosters on Wednesday morning, including the eight goaltenders that will play during each of the 3 vs. 3 scrimmages in Nashville this winter.
Each division pulled two goaltenders; Jonathan Quick and John Gibson for the Pacific, Devan Dubnyk and Pekka Rinne for the Central, Braden Holtby and Cory Schneider in the Metropolitan, and Ben Bishop and Roberto Luongo for the Altantic.
Looking at the names, Jonathan Quick may be the only one that stands out as a no-brainer in the list of eight. Quick is a two-time Stanley Cup champion, and he’s playing in a division that’s been struggling to produce consistently good numbers. John Gibson is a solid second pick, but what other options are available? Mike Smith is hurt, Ryan Miller has struggled mightily in 3 vs 3, Martin Jones has cooled off after a hot start, and both of the Edmonton Oilers goaltenders are having trouble with consistency.
The Central Division’s choices are interesting, conversely. In a division where Connor Hellebuyck is the next big thing and Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi are a tandem that just can’t lose (since we all know the All Star Game doesn’t necessarily go with the players that analysts would have gone with), Devan Dubnyk and Pekka Rinne were given the nod. Maybe it was the NHL consciously moving away from using Corey Crawford again, or possibly a nod at the former Vezina nominees – but it was definitely a tribute to how powerful the Central is right now.
In the Metropolitan and Atlantic Divisions, a couple of new names were tapped for the game – including Braden Holtby, who couldn’t even get a nod when the NHL saw a whole slew of goaltenders go down with injury ahead of the games last year. This may be Holtby’s coming out party, but the nomination wasn’t exactly a shoo-in; the NHL loves Marc-Andre Fleury, and Eddie Lack is always a dark horse for a public appearance. He and Cory Schneider have been some of the league’s best in the last few seasons, but this is the first public acknowledgement of it – Capitals fans and goaltending fanatics are well aware of Holtby’s impressive record this year, but this could be what propels him to the forefront of the league stage.
The most surprising nomination? Roberto Luongo, who’s the oldest goaltender given the nod by a full three years (over Pekka Rinne, 33, who plays for the host city and joins two other Predators skaters in the lineup). Luongo is having a career year, but the fast-paced 3 vs. 3 format seems like a surprising event to tap one of the NHL’s most veteran players. After all, Arizona Coyotes captain Shane Doan has 7 goals in 3 games, and he didn’t get the nod either.
As with the All Star Games past, goaltenders will likely rotate in during the games themselves, taking ten minutes of 3 vs. 3 play apiece and then standing in during the shootout.
The game will be played on January 31st, taking place at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. The first game will pit the Atlantic Division All-Stars against the Metropolitan Division roster, while the second game will be Central Division vs. Pacific Division following game one.