A nice break for the players, some trials and competitions for the world’s best, and a showcase of a hockey that has a final score similar to a lacrosse game. All-Star Weekend was intended to take place in Columbus this year (just one more thing they’ve lost), but thanks to Bettman and Fehr, the closest we’ll get is yesterday’s Habs vs. Pens game that finished with a score of 7-6.
Last year, fans had the luxury of fantasy drafting the players they most wanted to see in the All-Star Game. I’ve done the same. Rather, not who I’d want to see, but who, based on their performance so far this season, would have been featured on the opening line should the fans have been so lucky as to choose them. I don’t want to bring up bad memories from your younger gym class years and say “I wish I could have picked everyone for my team!”, as there were some tough decisions (debates are welcome). We’re all winners here. Except these guys–these guys, are all-stars.
Forward – Steven Stamkos
The Macedonian assassin had 60 goals last year, and though he only has 15 right now through 21 games, he’s still leading the league. 6 of those 15 snipes have come on the powerplay–I’m guessing as a one-timer from the middle of the circle? In the 2012 All-Star Game, Stamkos performed the worst out of all the participants in the accuracy shooting competition, but I guess everyone was still too busy chipring Phil Kessel to make fun of him…
Had a great time at the NHL all star game … Back to work tonight against the caps!!#BetheThunder
— Steven Stamkos (@RealStamkos91) January 31, 2012
Forward – Sidney Crosby
Rejoice! The Kid is healthy again! He’s been named to four All-Star Games, but has only ever been well enough to play in ONE (2007). So far this year, he’s leading in assists and goals (and therefore points). Not to mention he’s fourth in shots, which should continue to grow now with the absence of Malkin. We just hope Cros can stay healthy.
Forward – Thomas Vanek
With one all-star appearance in 2009, I bet at the beginning of the year you didn’t have this guy pegged to be on this starting line-up. But so far in 2013, Vanek has been the only bright light for the Sabres in a dismal season. He has been quoted saying he doesn’t think his hot streak will last, but his numbers don’t lie: 27 points in 20 games, including a five-point night.
Defense – Kris Letang
If I didn’t have to worry about alloting players based on which conference they play in, the majority of the players would be from Pittsburgh. And what a dull article that would be. Letang was less than a second slower than the man below at last year’s Fastest Skater Competition (going backwards, no less), though speed is only one of his many talents. He leads all defensemen in scoring with 19 points in 19 games.
Defense – Brian Campbell
The poor guy can only do so much in Florida. Typically underrated, Campbell had his highest point-total season last year with 53 and won the Lady Byng trophy. He’s appeared in four all-star games previously; this year could easily have been his fifth. He leads all defensemen with five powerplay goals so far this year.
Goaltender – Craig Anderson
He hasn’t played since February 21st, but man this guy was hot. I still remember the game against Buffalo this year–42 saves for the shutout! He has the highest save percentage at .952, and is second in goals against average at 1.49. This would (not could, would) have been his very first all-star game.
The Western Conference, though behind on the score sheet stats, is easily as stacked. Corey Crawford? Patrick Kane? Maybe we should just watch the next Penguins and Blackhawks game and consider it an honorary ASG. Check back soon for the West’s bests.
Putting the amour back in journalism. Shift around…it’s in there.