The NHL is quickly approaching its All Star Weekend extravaganza — January 24-25 in St. Louis, Missouri. The league recently announced its rosters for the upcoming 2020 All-Star Weekend, providing fans a look at the players who will be representing the league’s four divisions during the event in St. Louis. The All-Star break is the unofficial halfway mark in the NHL, even though it is statistically past that in games played. The All-Star break allows teams to reset and gear up for the home stretch.
Most of the time the NHL’s selected All-Stars are also players who are near or at the top of the league in statistical categories. So, since the rosters have been announced, we here at Operation Sports thought we would simulate an NHL season in NHL 20 and compare results to see how closely EA’s hockey world matches up with the NHL’s hockey world.
Friday and Saturday January 24 and 25
Host St. Louis Blues at Enterprise Center, (NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS)
Three St. Louis Blues players will help provide hometown representation in the host city. The Blues — who are also the defending Stanley Cup champions — have the most representatives in this year’s game as Ryan O’Reilly, Jordan Binnington, and Alex Pietrangelo have all been named to the Central Division roster.
The four division captains, as voted by the fans, were already announced and they include David Pastrnak (Atlantic Division – Boston Bruins), Alex Ovechkin (Metropolitan Division – Washington Capitals), Nathan MacKinnon (Central Division – Colorado Avalanche) and Connor McDavid (Pacific Division – Edmonton Oilers).
However, Alex Ovechkin has previously been selected to participate 10 times in All-Star Weekend, so he has already announced that he will not be participating this year so that he can rest and be ready for the second half of the regular season. He will sit out one regular season game either immediately before or after the All-Star break as a result of skipping the weekend.
Once again this year, the All-Star Game will consist of a three-game tournament featuring one team representing each of the league’s divisions. Those teams will play in a 3-on-3 format, the winners of the first round going on to play each other in the final.
*Indicates fan-voted captain
Atlantic Division (All-Star appearance)
- F Tyler Bertuzzi, DET (1st)
- F Anthony Duclair, OTT (1st)
- F Jack Eichel, BUF (3rd)
- F Jonathan Huberdeau, FLA (1st)
- F Auston Matthews, TOR (4th)
- F David Pastrnak, BOS (2nd)*
- D Victor Hedman, TBL (3rd)
- D Shea Weber, MTL (7th)
- G Frederik Andersen, TOR (1st)
- G Tuukka Rask, BOS (2nd)
Metropolitan Division (All-Star appearance)
- F Mathew Barzal, NYI (2nd)
- F Jake Guentzel, PIT (1st)
- F Kyle Palmieri, NJD (2nd)
- F Artemi Panarin, NYR (1st)
- F Travis Konecny, PHI (1st)
- D John Carlson, WSH (2nd)
- D Dougie Hamilton, CAR (1st)
- D Seth Jones, CBJ (3rd)
- G Braden Holtby, WSH (5th)
- G Joonas Korpisalo, CBJ (1st)
Central Division (All-Star appearance)
- F Patrick Kane, CHI (9th)
- F Nathan MacKinnon, COL (4th)*
- F Ryan O’Reilly, STL (3rd)
- F Mark Scheifele, WPG (2nd)
- F Tyler Seguin, DAL (6th)
- F Eric Staal, MIN (6th)
- D Roman Josi, NSH (3rd)
- D Alex Pietrangelo, STL (2nd)
- G Jordan Binnington, STL (1st)
- G Connor Hellebuyck, WPG (2nd)
Pacific Division (All-Star appearance)
- F Logan Couture, SJS (2nd)
- F Leon Draisaitl, EDM (2nd)
- F Anze Kopitar, LAK (5th)
- F Connor McDavid, EDM (4th)*
- F Elias Pettersson, VAN (2nd)
- F Jakob Silfverberg, ANA (1st)
- F Matthew Tkachuk, CGY (1st)
- D Mark Giordano, CGY (3rd)
- G Jacob Markstrom, VAN (1st)
- G Darcy Kuemper, ARI (1st)
- F Sergei Svechnikov (CAR) – It is bizarre decision by the NHL to have neither Sebastian Aho or Sergei Svechnikov on either the Metropolitan Division All-Star Game roster, or on the “Last Man In” option — no disrespect to potential “last man” Teuvo Teravainen. However, Aho did get his All-Star moment last season, so it should have been Svechnikov’s turn this year after recording 17 goals, two of them being goal the year candidates, and 21 assists in 39 games. Having him replace Alex Ovechkin would have been both appropriate and poetic due to their past meetings with one another.
- F Brad Marchand (BOS) – Has there ever been an eventual Hart Trophy finalist snubbed for that same season’s All-Star Game? Only Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have more points than Marchand, and yet the Bruins’ agitator isn’t even included on the “Last Man In” ballot. Love him or hate him, Marchand’s kind of talent should be on display during All Star Weekend.
- D Cale Makar (COL) – As a defenseman, Makar is the second-leading scorer on his Colorado Avalanche team that currently has the second-most points in the Western Conference. Furthermore, don’t forget to mention the fact that he’s a rookie playing just over 20 minutes per game at almost a point per game pace. His 29 points in 31 games puts him eighth in defensemen scoring. The All-Star Game is meant to showcase the very best the league has to offer and that should include one of the league’s top rookies, right?
Our Results – NHL 20 All-Star Game Comparison
- Period Length: 7 minutes
- Difficulty: Superstar
- Game Style: Full Sim
- Sim Engine Scoring: Medium
Right out of the gates a crazy similarity pops up as Pekka Rinne became the first NHL goaltender in more than six years to score a goal. Holding a 4-2 lead, Rinne grabbed a puck behind his goal line and fired a shot past the far blue line. The puck bounced and spun and went in with 22 seconds left in a 5-2 win. Rinne became the 12th different goalie in NHL history to be credited with a goal (Martin Brodeur did it three times and Ron Hextall did it twice) and the seventh goalie to score with a shot on net.
Rinne’s goal was the first for a goaltender since Mike Smith, then with the Phoenix Coyotes, scored against the Detroit Red Wings on Oct. 19, 2013. Nashville’s Chris Mason was credited with a goal on April 15, 2006, but he was the last person to touch the puck before the Coyotes put the puck in their own net.
EA’s NHL series has been known to come up with some wild predictions (see below) — although this isn’t necessarily a prediction more of a similarity — so it’s wild to see this match up with the current NHL season.
Now, as mentioned above with the sometimes wacky EA outcomes, when it comes to team standings this one will probably come as a bit of a shock to most. However, in fairness, I don’t believe there is much of a shock when it comes to teams two through eight. Those teams mostly have solid NHL rosters and were believed to at least be playoff teams in the beginning of the season.
Nevertheless, the team that everyone will take exception to (outside of Anaheim) is the Ducks being the best team in the NHL at the All-Star break. Anaheim does have some really good NHL talent on its roster, but it is certainly not enough to be tops in the NHL. Currently, the Ducks sit in a tie for 28th place in the NHL.
The Washington Capitals, who have been the top team in the NHL for most of this season and currently have 69 points, find themselves struggling and one game below .500 with just 48 points. Also, the Arizona Coyotes have enjoyed a breakout season in real life and have spent lots of time atop the Pacific Division, but here in our simulation they are second to last in the NHL with just 38 points.
That being said, this simulation does have the Blues continuing their success and strong defensive play. The Blues average 2.47 goals against per game, which is the stingiest in the league.
- Patrice Bergeron (BOS) – 51 Games Played 27 Goals 40 Assists 67 Points
- Sidney Crosby (PIT) – 50 Games Played 25 Goals 40 Assists 65 Points
- Brad Marchand (BOS) – 51 Games Played 30 Goals 32 Assists 62 Points
- Evgeni Malkin (PIT) – 49 Games Played 32 Goals 29 Assists 61 Points
- Jack Eichel (BUF) – 48 Games Played 31 Goals 29 Assists 60 Points
Noticeable above is the fact that two teams, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Boston Bruins, have two skaters each in the top five. Further displaying domination is that the leagues 6th highest scorer is the third member of that Boston Bruins top line David Pastrnak with 60 points. Current NHL points leader Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers) is 8th in points.
Bergeron, Marchand, Malkin, and Eichel are 47th, 6th, 20th, and 8th respectively in today’s NHL point race. Jack Eichel is the only player in the top 5 that is headed to this years All Star Weekend. However, Brad Marchand should be there as well. Sidney Crosby has been injured most of this season having only appeared in 19 games.
Goal Scoring Leaders
- Evgeni Malkin – 32
- Jack Eichel – 31
- Brad Marchand – 30
It’s not all that shocking that players who are top five in the league in points would also be included on this list as well. Superstar sniper Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals) finds himself in a tie for 5th with 28 goals. David Pastrnak, the real league leader with 36 goals, sits in 11th with 20 goals.
Malkin, Eichel and Marchand sit 73rd, 4th and 16th respectively right now in the NHL goal scoring race.
- Elias Pettersson – 42
- Alex Pietrangelo – 42
- Seth Jones – 41
The above list is composed of a 21-year-old blossoming superstar (Pettersson), and two defensemen in Pietrangelo and Jones. Pettersson probably won’t seem like a stretch given his skill set and position, but having two defensemen in the top three might attract a few eye rolls.
Currently, the top defensemen in assists are 3rd and 13th in the real NHL league leader list.
Top Rookie Scorer
- Quinn Hughes – 37 points
The 20-year-old defenseman’s 37 points were not far off his current production. In 47 games, Hughes has 33 points and that’s good enough for third among all rookie skaters. Hughes will be attending All Star Weekend.