Monday, January 07, 2008

All-Stars: Beasts of the East

On to the East, where goaltenders rule the day - hey, at least there's something good about the teams in the Eastern Conference...

Atlanta Thrashers - Ilya Kovalchuk has this one locked up. In an up and down season for Atlanta, Kovalchuk has found consistency since Bob Hartley was shown the door and leads the league in goals. He may not be our favorite guy in the world here in DC but it's hard to deny that he's an electric much as we may want to.

Boston Bruins - The B's have found a weirdly balanced attack among their scorers, with five in double-digits and a handful close behind, but the pick will probably be Marc Savard, who is averaging about a point a game and leads the team in scoring. Goaltender Tim Thomas is arguably the team's MVP to this point with a .931 save percentage on his resume and could get a look as well.

Buffalo Sabres - If there's any god Brian Campbell won't make it into the starting lineup, because despite decent numbers he hasn't played anywhere near his ability. Maxim Afinogenov's 7 goals also have to be kind of a disappointment. In fact it seems like Ryan Miller continues to be the glue that holds the team together (such as it is) and should get some recognition, although it would be nice to see someone like Derek Roy or Ales Kotalik get in there.

Carolina Hurricanes - Just give it to Cam Ward and be done with it. The kid has bounced back from a disappointing post-Cup slump and is looking more like the Conn Smythe winner he was in the 2006 postseason. Honorable mention goes to the ageless Cory Stillman, who is very quietly teetering on the edge of 20 goals - to put that into perspective, his career high for an entire season is 27.

Florida Panthers
- Hard to argue with the fact that, despite a shaky start and some ups and downs along the way, Tomas Vokoun has been the best player in Sunrise, Florida. He's kept them in a lot of games they shouldn't be in (much like Luongo did in days past) and stolen at least one from the Caps this year. Want to throw in a shocker for a second choice? How about Richard Zednik? He's having a pretty good year - it could happen...

Montreal Canadiens - Andrei Markov's rise to the top of the Eastern vote-getters may surprise some, but anyone who has watched him this year and really over the past few years knows it's recognition that is long overdue. Joining him for the East, though, should be either Alexei Kovalev (who picked up 60,000+ write-in votes), Saku Koivu, or both. If Cristobal Huet hadn't missed a good chunk of the first half with injuries I'd say he deserves it as well - he's better than most people realize.

New Jersey Devils - Some guys like Martin Brodeur will always, always be on the ballot and will always, always get in to the All-Star Game. This year Brodeur has been very un-Brodeur-like for long stretches, though, so one could question his almost assured return as a starter. Nevertheless, Brodeur on his worst day is still usually better than a lot of the jokers in net nowadays, so Marty goes and may the Schwartz be with him. As for who will sit with him on the plane, it's hard to pick one standout on a team of "interchangeable parts" - let's go with Zach Parise, just because I like him.

New York Islanders - On a team that started out hot and quickly fell to the middle of the pack, picking one "All-Star" caliber player isn't easy. Taking the coward's way out I guess you could pick Rick DiPietro, although it could be said that Mike Comrie hasn't been that bad for the Isles. He's got 12 goals on a team that has about 20 total (okay, that's an exaggeration), so that's something.
New York Rangers - As insanely clueless as voters were picking Cheechoo 100,00+ times, they made up for it by keeping Jagr, Drury and Gomez out of the top ten vote-getters - not one of them deserves it after the first half they've had collectively. Henrik Lundqvist has been the savior for this team to this point and even he's been in a bit of a slump lately. If someone has to go it should be Michal Rozsival getting the nod for the blueshirts. The 29 year old is having a career year and is among the league-leaders for scoring by defensemen.

Ottawa Senators - Like the Red Wings, the Sens have a good deal of talent to choose from and they'll probably have quite a few reps at the All-Star Game. Alfredsson is almost definitely in as a starter and he should be joined by linemates Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley. Wade Redden and Chris Phillips have both been strong on the blueline and Martin Gerber has been steady for the Sens (recent meetings with the Caps aside, of course).

Philadelphia Flyers - We're probably stuck with the magical spearing midget, but don't overlook the contributions of Mike Richards. He's leading the team in scoring and has already shattered his career numbers in goals, assists and power play points. One of their young prospects, he's taken on a leadership role for this Flyers team and deserves to get some recognition.

Pittsburgh Penguins - You can leave your Ovechkin vs. Crosby crap at home, because no one will argue with Crosby getting in as a starter - not even this perpetual Crosby-basher. The kid is an amazing talent and I can say that without gagging. Evgeni Malkin should also get some consideration, though, for overcoming a slow start to get right back in the mix where he belongs. And how about Ty Conklin rounding out the trio? (I kid, I kid...)

Tampa Bay Lightning - Vincent Lecavalier...and no one else. Period.

Toronto Maple Leafs
- Give Mats Sundin a lot of credit - he's taken this Leafs team on his shoulders year after year with little reward, little playoff glory, and the collective Toronto media breathing down his neck. Criticized by some for being an aging star on his way out, he's picked up 20 goals and 28 assists to lead his team in scoring and keep them in the mix for the playoffs. Not an easy thing to do, and certainly deserving of a trip to Atlanta.

Washington Capitals - Unless there was a spike in the last few days Alex Ovechkin will probably not be going as a starter...but I don't think there's a question that he's going. He should definitely be joined by Mike Green, though, who is starting to make noise and get some national attention. Greenie is perfectly suited to the All-Star Game; he's flashy, powerful, and exciting to watch. He's still got some work to do in his own zone, but let's face it - no one watches these things for defensive positioning and blocked shots. (And if they do they need to be in therapy...)

Next up...the Young Stars


Steph said...

Awwwwwww but....Ty. :P

Shelby said...

I'm liking the ideas, but you snubbed my favorite player. Seriously, mention the Bruins and Chara isn't the first thing out of your mouth? He's great, he's HUGEEEE, and he's doing very well in votes.

Gotta rep the defensemen.

CapsChick said...

Steph: You're benched. That's it. ;)

Shelby: You too. Sorry, I'm just not a Chara fan - I'll admit he's got some good numbers but that's probably because he's 800 feet tall and the opponents (and goalies) just fly out of the way. I think Schultzie was trying to protect Olie by knocking him over on Thursday, don't you?

Pookie said...

it's hard to pick one standout on a team of "interchangeable parts"

Was that a shout-out? :)

Zach is totally our All-Star! He's (or was relatively recently; I can't be bothered to look it up) in the top 20 in scoring!

CapsChick said...

It was indeed ;) I'm sneaky like that...I figured that would get you to comment for sure!

kristin said...

Really? Ovechkin doesn't garner enough votes to be a starter? Weird.

Victor said...

Which Flyer hasn't been suspended this season? It oughta be that guy.