NHL All-Star Game 2018: 1st Line Predictions
The 2018 NHL All-Star Game is nearly upon us. Recently news about which players would represent their respective divisions during the exciting 3-on-3 tournament was announced, but fans still don’t know who will start the game on the top line for each team. Well, that’s not going to stop us from giving you our predictions on the subject. Check them out…
Stephen Stamkos, F (C)
Having Stamkos healthy has allowed for the Tampa Bay Lightning to make a complete 180 from a year ago. Currently sitting atop the division, head coach Jon Cooper has the honor of coaching this All-Star squad. He’ll certainly start his best player, and Atlantic team captain, Stephen Stamkos in one of the forward positions.
Auston Matthews, F
I doubt coach Cooper will burn all his Tampa forwards on the top line so look for one of the league’s premiere youngsters to get a start. Matthews has shown why he’s poised to be a Hall of Famer, despite missing some time this year. In 36 games, he has 19 goals and 14 assists for the 3rd place Toronto Maple Leafs
Victor Hedman, D
Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman should get the start for his head coach as the lone defenseman. His lock-down defense and ability to get the puck near the net on the offensive end make him a threat. Team Atlantic should score with him on the ice considering his passing ability. He has 27 assists in 44 games this season.
Andrei Vasilevskiy, G
In 37 games this season, Tampa Bay’s starting goaltender has put up a 27-7-0 record with a .930 save percentage and a 2.18 goals against average. Despite being alongside household favorite Carey Price of Montreal, Vasilevskiy absolutely deserves the start.
Rest of Atlantic
Aleksander Barkov, F (Florida Panthers)
Jack Eichel, F (Buffalo Sabres)
Nikita Kucherov, F (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Brad Marchand, F (Boston Bruins)
Mike Green, D (Detroit Red Wings)
Erik Karlsson, D (Ottawa Senators)
Carey Price, G (Montreal Canadiens)
Alex Ovechkin, F (C)
There’s not much we need to say about one of the all-time greats at this point. Being the captain of the Metropolitan team should get him the start. He deserves it, considering he’s put up 28 goals and 21 assists in 45 games.
Sidney Crosby, F
We all want to see this. Two amazing rivals and future Hall-of-Famers skating together on the same line. Crosby has been, unsurprisingly, great this season (17 goals, 30 assists). Look for him to start alongside Ovi.
Kris Letang, D
Pittsburgh is happy to have this fantastic blue-liner back on the ice after he missed the entire playoff run last season. Letang has been very good for the Penguins on both ends, contributing 25 assists in 43 games.
Braden Holtby, G
Holtby is a pillar of consistency. Washington’s starting netminder has a 24-9-0 record with a .917 save percentage and a 2.66 goals against average.
Rest of Metropolitan
Josh Bailey, F (New York Islanders)
Claude Giroux, F (Philadelphia Flyers)
Taylor Hall, F (New Jersey Devils)
John Tavares, F (New York Islanders)
Noah Hanifin, D (Carolina Hurricanes)
Seth Jones, D (Columbus Blue Jackets)
Henrik Lundqvist, G (New York Rangers)
Nathan MacKinnon, F
Some might be surprised to hear just how well the 22-year-old Avalanche forward has played this season. In 43 games, he has 20 goals and 23 assists. He’s deserved of a top-line start for the Central Division.
Patrick Kane, F
It’s been a disappointing year for Chicago, but not due to the play of Patrick Kane. The team’s best forward has 45 points in 45 games (19 goals, 27 assists) and is still one of the most entertaining skaters in the league.
P.K. Subban, D (C)
His wonderful defensive play, the All-Star captaincy, and the fact that his coach – Peter Laviolette – is leading the Central Division squad definitely results in Subban getting the start. The nine goals and 24 assists for Nashville don’t hurt his case either.
Connor Hellebuyck, G
Don’t sleep on the young goaltender for the Winnipeg Jets. He’s a vital part of why the Jets are currently sitting atop the Central Division. In 35 games, Hellebuyck has a 23-6-6 record with a .922 save percentage and a 2.40 goals against average.
Rest of Central
Brayden Schenn, F (St. Louis Blues)
Tyler Seguin, F (Dallas Stars)
Eric Staal, F (Minnesota Wild)
Blake Wheeler, F (Winnipeg Jets)
John Klingberg, D (Dallas Stars)
Alex Pietrangelo, D (St. Louis Blues)
Pekka Rinne, G (Nashville Predators)
Connor McDavid, F (C)
This is a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned. At just 21 years old, Edmonton’s Connor McDavid has already proven himself to be one of the best in the NHL. In 46 games, he has 15 goals and 37 assists. His flashy skating and stickhandling should lead to quite a show during the All-Star tournament.
James Neal, F
Let’s give it up for forward James Neal and the entire Vegas Golden Knights expansion team. With the best first-season start in NHL expansion team history, VGK is poised for a playoff birth, as the team currently sits atop the Pacific Division. Neal has been a major contributor with 18 goals and 11 assists.
Brent Burns, D
Ever the entertaining skater, the bearded wonder that is Brent Burns is one of the league’s top two-way defensemen. With seven goals, 27 assists, and about four missing teeth, the San Jose Shark is certainly a fan-favorite.
Marc-Andre Fleury, G
It’s too bad you can’t vote in all of the goaltenders on a team because the Vegas crew kind of all deserve to be here. Through injury after injury, guys have stepped up between the pipes. But it’s been former-Penguin Marc-Andre Fleury who’s been the team’s leader on and off the ice. 9-3-2 in 14 games, he has a .943 save percentage and a 1.77 goals against average.
Rest of Pacific
Brock Boeser, F (Vancouver Canucks)
Johnny Gaudreau, F (Calgary Flames)
Anze Kopitar, F (Los Angeles Kings)
Rickard Rakell, F (Anaheim Ducks)
Drew Doughty, D (Los Angeles Kings)
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D (Arizona Coyotes)
Jonathan Quick, G (Los Angeles Kings)
The 2018 NHL All-Star Game starts at 3:30 PM EST on Sunday, January 28. Look for more information on the entire weekend of festivities right here on SeatGeek.
(Cropped image courtesy Walter via Flickr.)