NHL All-Star Skills Competition: What you need know about each event

Ah, the NHL All-Star Skills Competition. It is an incomparable showcase for incredible hockey talent. Here, legends are made.

The glamorous Las Vegas Strip is the perfect place to revive the event after the COVID-19 layoff.

It's very common to play hockey in the desert. Ask. Auston MatthewsHe'll be there!

Hockey fans have long enjoyed the opportunity to watch their favorite players go toe-to toe with other top players from the league. We're happy to assist you if the program is new to you or if it's just a refresher of what's to be expected.

The NHL held its first skills competition in 1990 ahead of the 41st All-Star Game. Since then, it has been a fixture in the league. Over the years, different contests have been created to challenge the participants.

Two Vegas-themed events will be introduced by the NHL in 2022. These will be included in the celebrations, along with five previous skills competitions. Each contest's winner receives a $30,000 prize.

All the action begins Friday, February 4, at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. Let's get started with a breakdown.

What's New

The Fountain Face-Off

This competition will actually take place at the Fountains of Bellagio. Eight participants will travel by boat from their home to the Fountains of Bellagio, where they'll shoot five hockey pucks at five targets as fast as they can.

Qualifying players advance to the final. A breeze of fountain spray will swirl the competition and make it more difficult.

Added bonus: Jocelyne Lamoureux Davidson will be shooting at the event as one of her three Olympic medalists.

The field: Jordan Eberle, Seattle; Claude Giroux, Philadelphia; Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida; Roman Josi, Nashville; Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson; Mark Stone, Vegas; Nick Suzuki, Montreal; Zach WerenskiColumbus

The favourite:You can bet that second-time All-Star Huberdeau will flex his muscles in this event.


21 in 22

From the Fountains to the Strip! Who wouldn't love to play street hockey along Las Vegas Boulevard? Especially when there is a blackjack theme!

Five people will take on a deck of large cards that has been set up in a rack. Similar to blackjack, shooters have the objective of reaching 21 without going over, and doing so in the shortest number of shots. The first player to hit 21 or the one with the best hand wins each round. The pot is won by whoever wins the most rounds.

The field: Nazem Kadri, Colorado; Auston Matthews, Toronto; Joe Pavelski, Dallas; Steven Stamkos, Tampa; Brady Tkachuk, Ottawa

The favourite:You can count on Matthews and Kadri to have the inside track. Matthews will win the lottery.


What is returning?

Fastest skater

This is a classic. It's a classic. Skaters start standing at least three feet from the designated line and take off when the whistle blows. Fastest time wins.

The winner of the last event was New York IslandersForward Mathew BarzalHe was not chosen to All-Star weekend. The new champion will be announced. These are past winners from this year's field Connor McDavidThis is a three-peatter for 2017-19 Dylan Larkin (2016).

The field: Kyle Connor, Winnipeg; Adrian Kempe, Los Angeles; Chris Kreider, New York Rangers; Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington; Jordan Kyrou, St. Louis; Dylan Larkin in Detroit Cale Makar, Colorado; Connor McDavid, Edmonton

The favourite: McDavid will lose this event (see credentials). If anyone can beat the Oilers' captain, we bet on Larkin and Connor.


Save streak

Here's where everyone can get involved. Four goalies vs. 36 players. Who will win?

Every shooter from the opposing division will be confronted by each netminder. Each player will face each shooter from the opposing division in numerical order. The division captain will go last. If the goalie saves a captain's shot, he will continue to face pucks up until a goal is scored. (The round must conclude with a goal, and not a save).

The goalie with the longest streak of saves wins. If there is a tie in streak length the winner will be determined by the number of saves made. We also have sudden-death goals, which can be quite entertaining if a tiebreaker is necessary.

The field: Frederik Andersen, Carolina; Jack Campbell, Toronto; Thatcher Demko, Vancouver; John Gibson, Anaheim; Tristan Jarry, Pittsburgh; Juuse Saros, Nashville; Cam Talbot, Minnesota; Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay

The favourite:This group will almost certainly contain all three finalists in the Vezina Trophy, but Vasilevskiy still holds the inside track. Campbell will be a key player.


The hardest shot

This one is a heatsetter. We're talking 100 mph fire.

At least four players will be lined up along the nearest blue line. The puck is 30 feet from the goal. While the radar gun monitors the progress of the puck, competitors skate ahead and give it the most whack they've ever felt. Each player has two chances to score, and the shots must be on goal.

A player who breaks his stick during a shot gets another chance. The player with the highest radar gun score wins.

Zdeno CharaHe has held this title, and he reached a record speed at 108.8 miles during his five year tenure as the hardest shot champ from 2007-12. Shea WeberThe crown is currently held by a shot at 106.5 mph in 2020 and it was won three times between 2015 and 2017.

Other winners since 2006: Alexander Ovechkin(2018) John Carlson (2019).

The field: Victor Hedman, Tampa; Timo MeierSan Jose Adam Pelech, New York Islanders; Tom WilsonWashington

The favourite:Pelech could win this title in his All-Star Weekend debut. Wilson, a second-timer and big-bodied forward, is a sleeper selection.


Breakaway challenge

It's baaaack! Since 2016, the skills competition didn't include the breakaway challenge. The NHL is bringing it back as a “trick shot.”

Anaheim Ducks rookie phenom Trevor ZegrasAlthough he wasn't selected for All-Star Weekend, the league made him a special guest at this event. He's not alone.

Also on hand will be goaltender Manon Rhéaume and actor Wyatt Russell, a former professional hockey player.

Rhéaume was the first woman to play in the NHL when she suited up for two preseason contests with Tampa Bay in 1992. She is also an Olympic silver-medallist from 1998 Games.

Russell, the son actor Kurt Russell (actress Goldie Hawn) was a net player for many minor league teams over the years, including Chicago Steel.

This game requires at least four players, and at most two goalies. Shooters may start in any neutral zone, and can move all the way to the offensive zone, even behind the net. Zegras is the master of “The Michigan“).

Each skater is allowed two shots. The judges will use a scale of 1-10 to judge each shot. The shooter who scores the highest after two rounds wins.

The field: Alex DeBrincat, Chicago; Jack HughesNew Jersey Kirill Kaprizov, Minnesota; Alex Pietrangelo, Vegas; Trevor Zegras, Anaheim; Manon Rhéaume, Wyatt Russell

The favourite:As if Zegras weren't the right guy. Pure talent, with a little bit of guilt for not being named an All-Star.


Accuracy in shooting

This event is most likely the one that can really rattle a man.

There will be two players in each division, along with four passers. A net will have four Styrofoam targets attached at the corners.

One shooter will be 25 feet away from the goal line. A second shooter will do so at the other end. Two passers will be flanking each shooter and will alternately send pucks into the line. Shooters will try to hit all four targets in as little time as possible. They will try to hit all four targets as fast as possible.

Lamoureux Davidson will also participate in this event, as one of the passers.

Fun fact: This season's All-Star rosters have never won the accuracy shooting contest. Carolina's Jaccob SlavinFrom 2020, is the reigning champion.

The field: Sebastian Aho, Carolina; Patrice Bergeron, Boston; Rasmus Dahlin, Buffalo; Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton; Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary; Jake Guentzel, Pittsburgh; Clayton Keller, Arizona; Jonathan Marchessault, Vegas; Troy Terry, Anaheim

The favourite:Some players become sluggish under the pressure of shooting accurately. Draisaitl will not be one of these players.

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