Those looking for Canadian National Hockey League games, as we usually break down on this weekly post, will have to wait for another weekend. The league, for the most part, has the weekend off, save for the cream of the crop. The top players are convening on Sunrise, Florida to bring the NHL All-Star Weekend experience to Panthers nation – here’s how the Canadian teams play into that, and where they stand coming into the weekend.
Who’s Going: The Flames will be sending Nazem Kadri to represent them, making his second consecutive appearance in the festivities. While Kadri hasn’t been able to replicate his career-high pace in points from last season, 38 in 50 is still respectable and comes with the Calgary team lead in goals.
Lines at the Break: Calgary sits at +2013 to win the Stanley Cup (all odds in this post courtesy of Sports Interaction), +989 to win the Western Conference, +783 to win the Pacific Division, and -286 to make the playoffs.
State of the Team: This season came with a lot of offseason shakeup for the Flames and a lot of uncertainty, but I think most were hoping for more than a middling team at this point. Goaltending struggles have not helped things, with Jacob Markstrom and Dan Vladar combining to save 11.2 fewer goals on the shots they’ve faced than the league average save percentage would imply. January was a bit more kind to Calgary, with a 6-3-2 record posted over 11 games.
Who’s Going: I don’t think a single soul is surprised to see Connor McDavid make his sixth appearance, along with Leon Draisaitl making his fourth. The surprise here comes via Stuart Skinner, who has taken over the Edmonton net and earned his first All-Star appearance as a result.
Lines at the Break: Edmonton sits at +1459 to win the Stanley Cup, +726 to win the Western Conference, +271 to win the Pacific Division, and -909 to make the playoffs.
State of the Team: The Oilers still have their share of depth issues, particularly on the blue line, and Jack Campbell’s anvil-on-arrival status between the pipes remains a concern, especially if anything happens to Skinner. But with four forwards producing at well over a point per game, including a historically strong performance from McDavid (92 points in 50 games), it’s hard to deny the upside of the team. In January, Edmonton posted a commanding 8-2-2 record, including a six-game winning streak between the 11th and 21st.
Who’s Going: Over in the Atlantic Division, Nick Suzuki is making his second All-Star appearance of his career. It hasn’t been an amazing season for the 23-year-old, but with the Habs clearly in a rebuilding phase and every team looking to be represented, he’s the best healthy fit right now. Suzuki has a team-leading 40 points in 51 games and as the team’s captain, is a worthy person to choose as their representative.
Lines at the Break: Montreal sits at +50000 to win the Stanley Cup or Atlantic Division, +34700 to win the Eastern Conference, and +3064 to make the playoffs.
State of the Team: The wind is coming out of the “sneaky good” sails that began the season, and no one in Montreal is overly upset about that. This was clearly a rebuilding year for the team, and a chance at Connor Bedard is more valuable than a late push. Everyone who is even slightly banged up is getting an early assignment to the injured reserve, as they should be right now. Montreal posted a 5-7-1 record in January.
Who’s Going: The Sens continue the trend of most of the Canadian teams sending one representative. In their case, Brady Tkachuk gets the nod for his third appearance of his career, and not just because it means spending time with his brother and Panthers opponent Matthew. Tkachuk leads all Ottawa skaters with in assists (31), points (51), and penalty minutes (68).
Lines at the Break: Ottawa sits at +14700 to win the Stanley Cup, +10600 to win the Eastern Conference, +50000 to win the Atlantic Division, and +1742 to make the playoffs.
State of the Team: Clearly not where they wanted to be at the start of the year, the Sens have been figuring it out over the past little bit, giving some hope that the plan is heading in the right direction. Earlier this week, a win over Montreal put the team over .500 for the first time since game No. 7 of the season, after flirting with the number for several weeks. Ottawa posted a record of 8-6-0 in January.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Who’s Going: While Toronto sits near the top of the NHL standings and has a bevy of star talent, it’ll be sending just one player in winger Mitch Marner. In fairness, the Atlantic has two other teams with the same description, and they’re only sending one skater as well – not to mention, Auston Matthews was originally slated to go before being replaced by Aleksander Barkov due to injury.
Lines at the Break: Toronto sits at +932 to win the Stanley Cup, +565 to win the Eastern Conference, +1472 to win the Atlantic Division, and a comfortable -10000 to make the playoffs.
State of the Team: Discourse in Leafs land is a dish served in single-game samples, so after a 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins, the team is irreparably bad and doesn’t have what it takes to win. In a more rational picture, third overall at the All-Star break looks about right, as does an 8-4-2 record in January. The team is basically in cruise control as it awaits its first round matchup with Tampa Bay, which could theoretically change but likely won’t for the entire second half of the season. To the divisional playoff system!
Who’s Going: On the other end of the spectrum, the Canucks aren’t very good and yet were nearly going to send two All Stars to the game. In a way, they still are. Elias Pettersson makes his third appearance, while Bo Horvat makes his second. The Canucks traded Horvat to the New York Islanders in a blockbuster trade this week, but he has yet to play for them and the rosters were pretty much locked in at this point, so he’ll wear an Islanders jersey during the Skills Competition but play for the Pacific. He’s here for his play with the Canucks, though, so we’re counting him.
Lines at the Break: Vancouver sits at +23600 to win the Stanley Cup, +13000 to win the Western Conference, +50000 to win the Pacific Division and +2229 to make the playoffs.
State of the Team: The Horvat trade implies that the team might finally be willing to let the rest of this year slip. A season of dysfunction punctuated with a coaching change from Bruce Boudreau to Rick Tocchet has not been kind to expectation at the top of the team, and the fan base stands with bated breath to see what the weeks leading to the trade deadline will hold. Vancouver posted a 4-9-0 record in January.
Who’s Going: The Jets will be sending two representatives to play for the Central Division. Breakout defenceman Josh Morrissey makes his first-ever appearance, while Connor Hellebuyck, who remains firmly in the Vezina Trophy hunt, will make his third. Morrissey’s 53 points in 52 games rank him second on the Jets in scoring, and have already well exceeded his career high for both points and assists, with goals not too far away. Hellebuyck is having one of the bet seasons of his career, posting a 24-15-1 record with a .923 save percentage, a ratio of 22.1 goals saved above league average, and a quality start in 72.5% of his appearances.
Lines at the Break: Winnipeg sits at +2152 to win the Stanley Cup, +1060 to win the Western Conference, +500 to win the Central Division and -526 to make the playoffs.
State of the Team: The Jets have come as the biggest positive surprise of all the Canadian teams this year, currently fighting neck and neck with the Dallas Stars for the top of their division. Superb goaltending has driven this rise, but getting production from Morrissey and their forward core (Kyle Connor, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, and the back-from-injury Nikolaj Ehlers) has certainly helped. Winnipeg had a heavy January and it didn’t go amazing, finishing 8-6-0, but the buffer is still there for them.
Back to the game. Not every sportsbook is going into the trenches on taking All-Star Game lines, which makes sense given that it’s a heavily casual activity and not something you can really projected. Some books are carrying though, including the aforementioned SIA.
For the outright winner, the stacked Atlantic Division has the shortest odds at +224, with the Central (+250) and Pacific (+300) following. The Metropolitan Division has the longest odds at +301.
Over at the skills competition, there are no Canadian team players in the Fastest Skater competition. Detroit’s Dylan Larkin leads the way at +250. Chandler Stephenson (+351), Cale Makar (+298), Andrei Svechnikov (+552) and my personal player of interest, Kirill Kaprizov (+451) round out the options.
For the Hardest Shot, Elias Pettersson (+394) and Josh Morrissey (+383) represent the Canadian contingent. Generational goal scorer Alex Ovechkin is the favourite at +294, Seth Jones trails him at +354, and my personal player of interest here is Rasmus Dahlin at +356.
Lastly, we have the Accuracy Shooting competition. It’s a long list, so I’d suggest you check out the full thing, but Canada will be relying on Alberta for this one. Connor McDavid leads the pack at +451, with Leon Draisaitl sitting at +551 and Nazem Kadri at +800. I’m pretty curious about Jack Hughes at +648, but that’s just me.
There are several other events, like the “Splash Shot”, “Pitch n’ Puck”, “Tendy Tandem”, and Breakaway Challenge, but there are no odds carried for those at SIA.
Where to Watch the All-Star Festivities
Want to tune into the festivities? Of course you do, that’s why you’re here. Worry not, we’re here to help!
For Friday’s skills competition, things kick off at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on the same places you’ll usually find Hockey Night in Canada – Sportsnet, CBC, and for French viewers, TVA Sports. The fact that the CBC is involved means, as always, Canadians will easily be able to find the event on the CBC website for free, or through their app, on their cable box, or through an antenna.
The same trio will be broadcasting the games on Saturday, which kick off at 3:00 p.m. ET.
For those looking to stream the games without Sportsnet, your best official bet would be Sportsnet Now, with the premium package required for non-local games. To learn more about Now and your other options, check out CSB’s “How to watch the NHL in Canada” guide!