The NHL didn't go old school when it shook up its All-Star Game. It went elementary school. Remember picking kick ball teams at recess? That's basically what the two captains — Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes and Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings — will do Friday (8/7c, Versus), selecting teams in a fantasy draft from a pool of players voted in by the league and fans. It's a radical departure from the usual Eastern Conference versus Western Conference format. "Picking sides is fascinating," says play-by-play announcer Mike Emrick, who will call Sunday's game for Versus. "Do you pick your friends? Do you pick the best players? This makes it a lot more entertaining."
Though the Pittsburgh Penguin's Sidney Crosby — the NHL's current wonder boy — is sitting the game out while recovering from a concussion, many other top stars are expected to play, including leading the league's top scorer, Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lighting, Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals and the Chicago Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews, MVP of last year's Stanley Cup finals. (They'll also be featured in Saturday's NHL Super Skills competition at 7/6c on Versus.)
With all that offensive firepower, expect the goalies to get plenty of work. "It should be a high-scoring game," Versus analyst Eddie Olczyk says. "I would put the number of goals in the 14 to 16 range."
The 2011 NHL All-Star Game airs Sunday at 4/3c on Versus.