NHL All Star Game Betting Preview: Metropolitan vs. AtlanticNBCSports.com Radio: WGN 720 AM Opening NHL All Star Game Lines: TBA
Why Bet on Metropolitan?This division is the defending All-Star champion. Led by fill-in coach Wayne Gretzky, the Metropolitan Division beat the Atlantic Division 10-6 and then the Pacific Division 4-3 to win the All-Star tournament. Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds scored three goals and was named the MVP. An argument could have been made that Braden Holtby of Washington Capitals should have been the MVP. The last goalie to be named MVP of the All-Star Game was Mike Richter in 1994, but Holtby stopped 17 of 20 shots in the two games last year, including all five in the final. You have to like any team that includes three of the five best players in the NHL in Sidney Crosby, John Tavares and Alex Ovechkin. At 30 and still considered hockey’s greatest player by many, Crosby’s next goal will be his 400th. His next point will be No. 1,080 of his career, which will vault him past Jaromir Jagr on the team’s all-time scoring list, with only Mario Lemieux to catch.
How Did Crosby Do Last Year?Last year, Crosby played in his first All-Star Game since 2007, in Los Angeles, as the captain of the Metropolitan Division team. Crosby was also an All-Star in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2015 but never played because of various injuries. Tavares could become the highest-paid player in hockey this summer when he hits free agency. The Islanders captain is in the final year of his contract and will become a free agent on July 1. He has said in past conversations that he will look at all factors before making a decision to sign with the Islanders or leave in free agency. Tavares, who leads the Islanders in points and is among league leaders, will be making his fifth career All-Star Game appearance. Teammate Josh Bailey will be making his first appearance at the All-Star Game. Bailey is only the second Islander besides Tavares to be selected for the event since the Isles captain entered the league in 2009-10 — Jaroslav Halak was selected along with Tavares during the 2014-15 season. Ovechkin is the team captain.
- F Josh Bailey, Islanders (1st ASG selection)
- F Sidney Crosby, Penguins (3rd)
- F Claude Giroux, Flyers (5th)
- F Taylor Hall, Devils (3rd)
- F Alex Ovechkin, Capitals (7th)
- F John Tavares, Islanders (5th)
- D Noah Hanifin, Hurricanes (1st)
- D Seth Jones, Blue Jackets (2nd)
- D Kris Letang, Penguins (4th)
- G Braden Holtby, Capitals (3rd)
- G Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers (4th)
- Coach: Barry Trotz, Capitals (3rd)
Why Bet on Atlantic?The Atlantic lost 10-6 to the Metropolitan in the opening round last year. The Atlantic houses the best team in hockey, the Tampa Bay Lightning, and arguably the hottest one in the Boston Bruins. There has been one change from the roster you will see below. Tampa’s Brayden Point will be filling in for the injured Victor Hedman. So the Lightning will have the same number of players participating in the All-Star Game, a league-high four. It’s is a forward subbing for a defensemen, but that doesn’t really matter in 3-on-3. While Point was shocked to get the nod coach Jon Cooper wasn’t, realizing just how important he is to this Lightning team. Point has 19 goals, second behind only Nikita Kucherov, and is a plus-19 while centering the team’s shutdown line. “We have a lot of big names that jump off the page – (Steven) Stamkos, (Nikita) Kucherov, (Andrei) Vasilevskiy and Victor Hedman,” Cooper said. “But if you really watch us close, you know one guy that kind of makes us tick, and that’s Brayden Point.” Kucherov leads the NHL in scoring and is the Hart Trophy favorite. Teammate Andrei Vasilevskiy is the Vezina favorite. The Atlantic Division also has reigning Calder Trophy winner Auston Matthews of the Leafs. Last year at just 19, Matthews scored a goal and played a game-high 8:16 in the Atlantic Division’s 10-6 loss to the Metropolitan Division in the semifinal.
Who Else Will Be Part of the Team?Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand, who began serving a five-game suspension Thursday, said he will take part in the All-Star Game. “I’m going to go,” Marchand said. “I’m very proud of that opportunity. It’s something that I’ve worked very hard for and never thought I’d have the opportunity to do. It’s something I’m very proud about and I’m going to go and enjoy every second of it.” Marchand has 50 points (21 goals, 29 assists) in 38 games and will make his second consecutive all-star appearance. The 29-year-old has been suspended six times for a total of 19 games in his NHL career. NHL rules do not prohibit someone under suspension from playing in the All-Star Game. Tampa’s Stamkos is the Atlantic captain.
- F Aleksander Barkov, Panthers (1st ASG selection)
- F Jack Eichel, Sabres (1st)
- F Nikita Kucherov, Lightning (2nd)
- F Brad Marchand, Bruins (2nd)
- F Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs (2nd)
- F Steven Stamkos, Lightning (5th)
- D Mike Green, Red Wings (2nd)
- D Victor Hedman, Lightning (2nd)/Brayden Point (1st)
- D Erik Karlsson, Senators (5th)
- G Carey Price, Canadiens (6th)
- G Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning (1st)
- Coach: Jon Cooper, Lightning (1st)