COLUMBUS, OHIO -- All-Star Weekend comes to a close on Sunday evening with the 2015 NHL All-Star Game, in which Team Claude Giroux -- or, rather, Team Foligno -- will try to sweep Team Jakub Voracek -- I mean, Team Toews -- after a triumphant victory last night in the Skills Competition.
Captain Nick Foligno had some encouraging words for his team heading into Sunday night.
"I told the guys, make sure you get your rest tonight and come hydrated and just make sure we're working hard," Foligno said. "That's pretty much what this All-Star Game is about. We want to dump pucks, make sure we're working the walls well, and then make sure we get lots of shots on net, so that'll be the message we send tomorrow with Darryl and make sure the guys are ready to go."
He was kidding.
"You know what, we had a blast," Foligno said of the skills competition on Saturday night. "That sounded pretty good, though, didn't it. We had a blast. The guys did awesome. I wasn't really sure how it was going to go, but we got off to a big lead and they climbed back in those breakaways. I hate those breakaways, man. But it was fun, a lot of fun, for sure."
It should be more fun on Sunday night as the teams take the ice at 5 p.m. ET. The event can be seen on NBCSN in the United States and NBCSports.com online. In Canada, CBC and TVA Sports have the broadcast and CBC.ca has a live stream.
This All-Star Weekend has been surprisingly fun across the board, honestly. We think of hockey players as pretty bland, normal people, and this is a game that has historically shunned or looked down upon anybody flashy, flamboyant or anything other than businesslike. But whether it's been Alex Ovechkin, visibly drunk, begging to be picked last in Friday's All-Star Draft, or Jakub Voracek making fun of Calgary's Johnny Gaudreau in the Skills Competition, or any of the other hilarious, open moments we've seen in the last two days, this All-Star Weekend has been a real treat.
Foligno talked about the freedom these guys feel to really take ownership of this event and have fun with it.
"You can see it," he said. "I think you saw it starting with the draft and guys chirping each other and having a good time and little comments that come out. I think we're trying to make ourselves as much open to the fans as possible because we know how important it is for them to see a different side of us. The season is so busy and so hard to kind of get yourself out there, but at a time like this when you can really open yourself up, I think it's great for the sport. The game of hockey is so fun and we have a great time playing it. I think that's really the message we want to get across in this All-Star Game."
I'd expect more of it on Sunday night.