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Preview and “GDP”: 2018 NHL All-Star Skills Competition and Threes Mini-Tourney

Here’s a quick rundown of the format of this year’s NHL All-Star Skills Competition and Game. With the changes, it’s kind of necessary.

NHL: NHL All Star Game-Skills Competition Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL has made a number of changes to the Skills Competition this year to more emphasize the player rather than the team. With that in mind, here’s the Skills Events. In parentheses are the terms I will use to refer to these challenges when talking about them for the remainder of the season.

Enterprise NHL Fastest Skater (Fastest Skater)

What’s old is new again. Last season, the Fastest Skater event got an addendum: the fastest skater would skate a full lap of the rink a la Mike Gartner in the hopes of beating Gartner’s record. Detroit’s Dylan Larkin did so in 2016 and Edmonton’s Connor McDavid attempted unsuccessfully last year. This year, it’s back to being the full lap. Eight skaters will compete in this challenge. Each skater will be able to choose his direction and get up to three feet for a skating start before crossing the red line and starting their time. The skater with the fastest lap wins, and if there’s a tie, the tied players will each skate another lap to determine the winner.


Brayden Point (C-21-Tampa Bay)

Zach Werenski (D-8-Columbus)

Rickard Rakell (L-67-Anaheim)

Noah Hanifin (D-5-Carolina)

Josh Bailey (R-12-NY Islanders)

Nathan MacKinnon (C-29-Colorado)

Jack Eichel (C-15-Buffalo)

Connor McDavid (C-97-Edmonton)

Dunkin’ Donuts NHL Passing Challenge (Passing Challenge)

The Passing Challenge will feature eight skaters competing in three mini-challenges. First, each player participating must pass to four targets that will light up in a random order. Second is a “Give and Go” challenge in which the player must complete four passes through an obstacle course. Third is the mini-net challenge, previously a fixture of the now-retired Skills Relay, in which the skater must pass four pucks over barricades, getting one into each of four mini-nets. A player can only move on to the next mini-challenge once the referee has whistled in approval. The fastest skater to compete all three mini-challenges is the winner, and anyone tied will compete again to determine a winner.


Nikita Kucherov (R-86-Tampa Bay)

Claude Giroux (C-28-Philadelphia)

Brayden Schenn (C-10-St. Louis)

Oliver Ekman-Larsson (D-23-Arizona)

Eric Staal (C-12-Minnesota)

Alex Pietrangelo (D-27-St. Louis)

Kris Letang (D-58-Pittsburgh)

Drew Doughty (D-8-Los Angeles)

Geico NHL Save Streak (Save Streak)

This challenge is a replacement of the NHL Shootout from previous All-Star Games, where the focus is shifted to the goaltenders, who are basically the focus of shootouts these days anyway. In Save Streak, five goalies, rather than just four or all eight for reasons I don’t know, will compete making saves against the nine skaters from the other division in their respective conferences, trying to get as many saves as possible. Each goalie will face at least one shot from each of the nine skaters shooting at them, ending with the divisional captain, regardless of whether they are scored on along the way. If the goalie fails to save the captain’s shot, he is eliminated. If he saves the captain’s shot, the order of shooters repeats itself and the goalie continues to save shots until he is scored on, at which point he is eliminated. The goalie with the longest save streak wins. If there’s a tie, the goalie with the most saves total wins Save Streak.


Henrik Lundqvist (G-30-NY Rangers)

Connor Hellebuyck (G-37-Winnipeg)

Pekka Rinne (G-35-Nashville)

Marc-Andre Fleury (G-29-Vegas)

Andrei Vasilevskiy (G-88-Tampa Bay)

Gatorade NHL Puck Control Relay (Puck Control Relay)

I’d hesitate to call this the Puck Control Relay, as the players don’t pass the buck mid-challenge to continue or finish the challenge. I’d call it the Puck Control Medley, but I don’t make the rules, so Puck Control Relay it is. Eight skaters compete in this challenge. In the first of three mini-challenges comprising this event, the players get the Stickhandling skill challenge, in which the skater must control the puck through an obstacle course of eight pucks. The second mini-challenge is the Puck Control portion of the event, in which the skater must skate in a zig-zag pattern around pylons while keeping control of the puck. The third, and most new, part of the event requires the skater to move the puck through a lighted rung of a gate. From the sounds of it, it may require a shot or simply guiding the puck, though we won’t know until we see it.


Johnny Gaudreau (L-13-Calgary)

Aleksander Barkov (C-16-Florida)

Erik Karlsson (D-65-Ottawa)

John Tavares (C-91-NY Islanders)

Connor McDavid (C-97-Edmonton)

Auston Matthews (C-34-Toronto)

Tyler Seguin (C-91-Dallas)

Patrick Kane (R-88-Chicago)

PPG NHL Hardest Shot (Hardest Shot)

Here we have the only event that isn’t altered in any way from its appearance at previous All-Star Games. It’s also the marquee event, the equivalent of the NBA’s Slam Dunk Challenge. Just in case you don’t know how this goes down, in this event, five skaters will each take two shots at the goal attempting to get the fastest shot. The fastest of the two shots will be the official shot, and the player with the fastest official shot wins. In the event of a tie, the tied players will go again.


John Klingberg (D-3-Dallas)

Alex Ovechkin (L-8-Washington)

PK Subban (D-76-Nashville)

Brent Burns (D-88-San Jose)

Steven Stamkos (C-91-Tampa Bay)

Honda NHL Accuracy Shooting (Accuracy Shooting)

Eight skaters will compete in this challenge, taking shots at targets. There are two key differences from previous incarnations. Firstly, there are five targets instead of four, and secondly, the shooter will have to shoot at whichever target lights up, in the three seconds that it is lit up. The shooter to hit all five targets the fastest wins, and if there’s a tie, then the tied shooters go again to decide the winner.


Brian Boyle (C-11-New Jersey)

Blake Wheeler (R-26-Winnipeg)

James Neal (R-18-Vegas)

Brock Boeser (R-6-Vancouver)

Brad Marchand (L-63-Boston)

Anze Kopitar (C-11-Los Angeles)

Sidney Crosby (C-87-Pittsburgh)

Steven Stamkos (C-91-Tampa Bay)

2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game

The format for the All-Star Game proper is the same as in 2016 and 2017. The Central and Pacific Divisions will play each other, and the Atlantic and Metropolitan Divisions will play each other, in twenty-minute mini three-on-three games, divided into ten-minute periods. The winning divisions play each other.

The 2018 NHL Skills Competition is at 6:00 PM on NBCSN, CBC, Sportsnet, and TVA Sports.

The 2018 NHL All-Star Game is at 2:30 PM on NBC, CBC, Sportsnet, and TVA Sports.

Enjoy the All-Star Festivities!