The NHL All-Star Game -- the last time the league takes a collective breath before the stretch run to the playoffs -- takes place today at 5 p.m. EST.
Catch broadcasts of the game in Columbus on NBC Sports in the U.S., and CBC and TVA Sports in Canada. NBC Sports will also live stream the game at NBC Sports Live Extra.
NHL Network also has pre-game coverage beginning at 3 p.m. EST and post-game coverage whenever the game ends around 7:30 p.m. or so.
One angle for today's All-Star Game is the number of first-timers who are established stars in the NHL. Among the veterans, the reason is they have been on teams loaded with stars: Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins debuts, as does 30-year-old Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook and Ottawa Senators forward Bobby Ryan, who was overshadowed by other stars when he was with Anaheim.
And of course, the current NHL leading scorer Jakub Voracek is making his All-Star Game debut at age 25.
Youngsters include Ryan Johansen of the host Columbus Blue Jackets and Tyler Johnson of the Tampa Bay Lightning, as well as rookie Calder favorites Aaron Eklbad of the Florida Panthers and Filip Forsberg of the Nashville Predators.
For the Islanders, John Tavares is already an All-Star Game "veteran" at age 24, but goalie Jaroslav Halak is making his debut. Selected as an injury replacement, he knows it could also be his last:
"I just want to see what it’s like and be with all the best players from the league," Halak said. "The game probably isn’t the best for goalies, but you have to enjoy it because you never know if you’ll ever get there again. You have to make the most of it."
But per tradition, today Halak has one more period of groin-challenging circus theater to play.