The NHL has ceased games until next week so the 2015 All-Star Weekend can commence in Columbus, Ohio. More than 40 players, voted in by the fans and selected by the league will participate in the weekend's festivities that will ultimately decide who has home-ice advantage during the Stanley Cup Final.
*Assistant taps on shoulder and whispers into ear*
It has no bearing on anything the league does at all? Are you sure? Well than what's the point? Oh. Right. Well, at least we'll get to see Dustin Byfuglien lay out some killer hits.
*gets another tap and whisper*
So as we head into a weekend devoid of real hockey, here's everything you need to know about this year's game and the Predators who are in it.
When and Where Can I Watch?
All the events throughout the weekend will be shown on NBC Sports Network, with additional coverage being shown on NHL Network.
The Fantasy Draft will take place Friday night, at 7 p.m. CST. Nick Foligno (and assistants Drew Doughty and Patrick Kane) will take turns with Jonathan Toews (and assistants Ryan Getzlaf and Rick Nash) in selecting players for each of their teams. The last pick (Erik Johnson) will probably win a car or something, and be the subject of many bad Twitter jokes.
On Saturday at 6 p.m. CST, the entire contingent (as well as a bunch of rookies) will participate in the Skills Competition. The night is comprised of six different events, testing a range of players' hockey prowess. Events include the fastest skater, a breakaway challenge, accuracy shooting, challenge relay, hardest shot, and a shootout. All those are sponsored by some big company as well. *shrugs*
Finally, the weekend concludes with the main event. At 4 p.m. CST, the 2015 All-Star Game will pit Team Foligno against Team Toews for bragging rights and who looks worse in those jerseys.
Which Preds Players Are Going?
While originally three Nashville players were selected to the games, only one of them is actually going to participate in the game. Pekka Rinne is going to miss the event while he recuperates from his sprained knee, and rookie Filip Forsberg is only eligible for the Skills Competition. That leaves Shea Weber as the sole representative for the Predators during the Sunday's score fest.
However, Peter Laviolette and the rest of Nashville's coaching staff will coach Team Toews. (I'm sure that won't lead to any griping by Preds fans.) His team had the best points percentage in the league, so they'll get the honor while Derryl Sutter and coaches Team Foligno.
Will They Be In Any Events?
Shea Weber will obviously be part of the AMP NHL Hardest Shot Competition, and has a huge chance to actually win. What does that mean? Well, not a whole lot, other than you get to put an actual MPH figure with the shot you see every night. Peeing your pants is totally acceptable.
Filip Forsberg will also be participating in a to be determined event. Since he and the other five rookies chosen are only eligible for the competition and not the game, you can bet we'll have all the airwaves covered for when he inevitably does something fantastic.
No word yet on if Laviolette is going to compete in a tie-off, or if they'll see how much gum a coach can consume in 30 seconds. (Lavy would win both.)
Who Else Is Going?
Then entire roster can be viewed here. Basically, half the Blackhawks roster will be in attendance. Most of the participating goalies are trying to find a way out, for fear of being injured on the way there. The Curse has already claimed Rinne, Jimmy Howard, and now hometown hero Sergei Bobrovsky. It's just as well, as the All-Star Game hardy even uses netminders to begin with.
How Can I Follow Along?
Great question! Stick with us here and follow us on Twitter (@OntheForecheck) and we'll have all the updates for you.
Anything Else I Need to Know?
The NHL will be announcing who is playing in the 2016 Winter Classic (Boston/Montreal) as well as the next participants in the Stadium Series (Colorado/Detroit, Minnesota/Chicago).
Also, there is going to be the first-ever Mascot Showdown. I really have no idea what this means, except there will be 26 NHL mascots (get it together, Edmonton, Philadelphia, Detroit and New York Rangers) all in the same place, playing broomball, dodge ball, three-legged races, dance off and more. Add that to an actual hockey game against the Eastern mascots and the Western mascots. Totally can't wait for Sparky to hip-check the hell out of Louie.
Other than that, it's a totally non-serious weekend filled with totally non-serious events that should showcase a hockey city. There's tons of other events going on all over Lumbus this weekend, and we'll be on the ground to explore them all!
Thankfully, there won't be any Guardians announced this year.