Mmmmm to the chili recipe below this post. Anyone want my carnitas recipe? Sooooo delicious.
But, I digress. The NHL recently unveiled the 6 fan choices for “starting lineup” for the All Star team. It’s a bit of a different format this year, and it’s one that screams novelty. The GMs will pick the 42 players to be All Stars (with the 6 fan choices included) and the players will vote to make two players captains. The two captains will then pick whom they want from the remaining 40 just like the schoolyard…er, um, neighborhood frozen pond.
To me, this will be like that one fantasy league you’re in. You know, the one with the fun draft? But then you kind of forgot about it and haven’t set your lineup in weeks. The captains picking the teams will be fun to watch, but the game? Meh, I won’t be disappointed if I miss it. But I’m like that for all All Star games.
And now to the fan’s choices. Unfortunately, this is like asking a 6 year old: “What do you want for dinner tonight?” Sometimes, you’re just not going to get the answers you want. Now, this didn’t keep me up at night and it is what it is, but for the sake of discussion, I’ll give my opinion on each player, after the jump.
F Sidney Crosby PIT
F Jonathan Toews CHI
F Evgeni Malkin PIT
D Duncan Keith CHI
D Kris Letang PIT
G Marc-Andre Fleury PIT
These are the players that are guaranteed a spot on the All Star team, supposedly the best players. As for them being the best players, I agree with one pick, Sidney Crosby. Clearly, the NHL’s point and goal leader should be one of the starters. There really isn’t much to talk about with him other than he’s easily the MVP of the Penguins and possibly the NHL at this point.
Jonathan Toews was second in voting behind Crosby, and while he’s All Star material, no Steven Stamkos? He’s one behind Crosby for the lead in goals with 31 and is second in the NHL in points. After scoring 51 goals last season, he’s well on his way to breaking that total this year. Toews is an excellent player and a great captain, but Stamkos has to be taken ahead of him.
The fans chose Evgeni Malkin to round out the forwards. Um, really? He’s got 34 points in 37 games so far this season, which is good, but very underwhelming for Malkin who is well over a point per game player over his career. This is one of those picks that is based on name only. That’s what people voted on, what Malkin has done previously in his career, not this season. Who should have made it ahead of Malkin? How about one of the Sedin twins, who are both tearing it up for Vancouver so far. Henrik Sedin leads the NHL in assists with 44, which is 10 ahead of Crosby’s second place total. Martin St. Louis and Ryan Kesler are also having excellent seasons.
Duncan Keith has been having a decent season in terms of points, but once again, he was chosen on his past accomplishments. And at a -8, is he really the best the fans could come up with? If I could choose, there would be no question that the top defenseman so far this season is Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings. He’s 40 years old with 39 points in 41 games and could possibly break his previous career high in points of 80. How the annual Norris shoe in wasn’t picked is beyond me.
As for Kris Letang, he’s definitely an All Star player, really filling the void left by Sergei Gonchar as a point producer from the point and has been equally as impressive defensively, especially on the penalty kill. He’s second in the league in +/- and assuming he keeps it up, will be a Norris candidate at the end of the year. But should be have been chosen as a starter? I’ve got to give that honor to Dustin Byfuglien, who is seriously making me eat my crow this season. He leads defensemen with 41 points and 16 goals. He might not be the best shut down option out there (not even close), but the All Star game is about scoring.
In net, the fans chose Marc-Andre Fleury. This is the worst one of them all. Fleury is a borderline All Star player, starting off the season with a 1-6 record and lost a lot of starts to backup Brent Johnson. Since then, however, he’s really turned it around and has been excellent. But starter? NO WAY. Where in the world is Tim Thomas? You know, the guy that pretty much already has the Vezina Trophy wrapped up? His mediocre .945 save percentage and 1.80 GAA lead the NHL and his 5 shut outs have him tied for the NHL lead. So, should Fleury even be an All Star? I say no. along with Thomas, I’d pick Ondrej Pavelec (ATL), Jonathan Quick (LAK), Jonas Hiller (ANA), Cam Ward (CAR), and Thomas Vokoun (FLA). Guys like Ward and Vokoun may not have some of the numbers that Fleury does, especially in the goals against average, but when Fleury’s backup essentially has the same numbers, you’ve got to give a lot of credit to the excellent Penguins defense. Hiller, Ward, and Vokoun don’t have anything close to the defense that Fleury does, so that’s got to count for something. That said, it’s not a travesty that he’s in the All Star game. Personally, I’d rather have some other guys instead.
Agree with me, disagree with me, tell me I’m a genius, tell me I’m an idiot, send me a case of beer (yes, do that!). But whatever you do, enjoy the second half of the NHL season.