NHL All-Star Game semifinals kicks off with plenty of fire power

Feb 3, 2022; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; The Stanley Cup is seen during the 2022 NHL All-Star Game Fan Fair at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL All-Star Weekend begins tonight with the Skills Competition followed by the Game on Saturday, February 5.

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jack Campbell admitted he might feel a little starstruck when he appears in his first NHL All-Star Game on Saturday afternoon in Las Vegas.

Sharing the net with Campbell on the Atlantic Division team will be Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning, a four-time All Star, two-time Stanley Cup Champion and 2019 Vezina Trophy winner.

“I’m just excited to share a dressing room and learn from him a little bit,” Campbell said of Vasilevskiy.

Atlantic and Metro Semifinal

The Atlantic and Metropolitan teams will be loaded with other standout players when their matchup begins following the first 20-minute semifinal between the Pacific and Central divisions, which is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. ET.

Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers is among those to watch for the Metro team. He has produced a league-leading 33 goals through the first 47 games this season. He will compete in the Skills Competition for fastest skater.

Kreider likely will share plenty of ice time with Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers. Giroux will play in his seventh All-Star Game, which is tied with Steven Stamkos of the Lightning for the most appearances among this year’s selections.

“I always enjoy it,” Giroux said of his previous All-Star experiences. “Anytime you get to play with the best in the league, it’s always great.”

Jan 25, 2020; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Metropolitan Division forward Chris Kreider (20) of the New York Rangers battles for the puck with Atlantic Division forward Jonathan Huberdeau (11) of the Florida Panthers in the 2020 NHL All Star Game at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Metro missing huge star against Atlantic

The Metro Division will miss the scoring touch of Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin, who is tied for third in the NHL with 29 goals. He tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday and will be replaced by rugged teammate Tom Wilson.

Jake Guentzel will try to pick up some of the scoring slack after winning the “Last Men In” voting competition for the Metro. He leads the Pittsburgh Penguins with 23 goals and 46 points.

Expect the Atlantic Division to counter offensively with Jonathan Huberdeau of the Florida Panthers, who leads the NHL with 64 points (17 goals, 47 assists) in 47 games, and Auston Matthews of Toronto, who has 29 goals this season after scoring a league-leading 41 in 52 games last season.

The Atlantic also features the league’s top-scoring defenseman, Victor Hedman of Tampa Bay, who has 47 points (10 goals, 37 assists) in 46 games.

Pacific and Central set to clash at All-Star Game

Jan 25, 2020; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Atlantic Division goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) of the Tampa Bay Lightning defends the net against Pacific Division forward Connor McDavid (97) of the Edmonton Oilers in the 2020 NHL All Star Game at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Troy Terry had to earn his way into the NHL All-Star Game on Saturday afternoon in Las Vegas.

He struggled to make an impact his first four seasons with the Anaheim Ducks, but a 16-game point streak by Terry early in the season helped the Ducks to a 10-4-3 start and they’ve continued to be one of the NHL’s most surprising stories.

The point streak remains the second-longest in the NHL this season and Terry is up to 25 goals, tied for sixth-most in the league.

Terry didn’t initially earn an All-Star nameplate, but fans voted him onto the Pacific Division team in the “Last Men In” competition.

When the Pacific Division drops the puck against the Central Division in the first semifinal beginning at 3 p.m. ET, Terry should find plenty of open ice in the 3-on-3 format.

Playing with dynamic offensive players such as Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers might feel too good to be true.

“It’s not lost on me how cool this is,” Terry said. “I don’t know if justice was served because there were some really deserving players, but for me, I’m just extremely happy. It’s pretty cool for me.”

Western First-Timers

Terry is one of six first-time All Stars on the Pacific team, joining forwards Jonathan Marchessault and Mark Stone of the Vegas Golden Knights, Timo Meier of the San Jose Sharks, Adrian Kempe of the Los Angeles Kings and goalie Thatcher Demko of the Vancouver Canucks.

The Central team has eight first-time All-Stars, including Kirill Kaprizov of the Minnesota Wild, who led NHL rookies in goals (27) and points (51) last season.

“It’s a lot of fun for me, a lot of fun for all the players that get to participate,” Kaprizov said.

Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche, who leads NHL defensemen with 18 goals, will make his All-Star debut along with teammate Nazem Kadri, who is tied for third in the NHL with 60 points (19 goals, 41 assists) through 41 games, but had to win the “Last Men In” competition to make the Central team.

Nathan MacKinnon was set to become the third Colorado player for the Central, but won’t play after breaking his nose against the Boston Bruins on Jan. 26.

–Field Level Media