RALEIGH -- If there's any fear about today's 2011 NHL All-Star Game, it's that the weekend will come to an anti-climatic end. Think about it: on Friday we saw the awesome, unique All-Star "Fantasy" Draft, where the players gathered to pick their own teams like an awkward P.E. class from their childhood.
Then, on Saturday, we saw what's usually considered the crown jewel of the All-Star Weekend, the All-Star SuperSkills competition. The fans were into the event, the players seemed a little more in to it than usual, and it was its usual entertaining self. It lived up to expectations.
Now, tonight, we have the Game itself. It's an odd 4 p.m. start on a Sunday afternoon, and usually, it's an underwhelming event that plays a lot like NHL 11 on the "Rookie" setting. Lots of goals, no semblance of defense and a lot of embarrassed goalies.
But this year, with all the hype around the new format, there's a lot more of an expectation for the game. It'll still be the same style of play, but the players are supposed to be more in to the thing this time around. It's supposed to be better.
We might be underwhelmed. After all, it's still the same old All-Star Game at the end of the day, and without physical play and defense, it's just not something that's all that entertaining. It's quite possible that when the NHL looks back on this weekend, they're going to realize that the climax came way too early.
In any event, tonight's game is on Versus in the United States and CBC in Canada at 4 p.m. Eastern, and you'll likely be watching anyway... because, well, it's hockey.