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Who were the biggest All-Star surprises?

Jan 12, 2012, 2:23 PM EDT

Dustin Byfuglien Getty

The 2012 NHL All-Star game rosters have been announced, so now it’s time for the fun part — picking them apart! Here’s a look at some of the biggest surprises headed to Ottawa.

Goalies

Brian Elliott is an intriguing choice. He’s only started 20 games and his partner in the St. Louis goaltending timeshare, Jaroslav Halak, has solid numbers himself (2.19 GAA, two shutouts). Mind you, it’d be hard to dismiss Elliott given he’s second in the NHL in GAA (1.62), save percentage (.940) and shutouts (five).

Another eyebrow-raiser: Carey Price. No question he’s been a workhorse in Montreal, but he’s also 20th in GAA, 24th in save percentage and has as many wins as losses.

Defensemen

Dustin Byfuglien was brutal for the first month of the season, and now he’s hurt. The 24 points in 35 games are nice, but he’s still minus-8 and not that far removed from being called a disappointment.

I get the Dan Girardi selection and am glad he was recognized…but it’s a little like when Ben Wallace went to the NBA All-Star Game (and he went four times). It’s the square-peg-round-hole dynamic: Two guys that like being physical and blocking shots, stuck in a game where nobody cares about defense.

(Also, you could argue Michael Del Zotto should be the Rangers defenseman going to Ottawa.)

Forwards

Mikko Koivu is a surprise. He’s 51st among all forwards in scoring — anytime you’re looking up the points leaderboard at Curtis Glencross, P.A. Parenteau and Adam Henrique, you’re probably not expecting an ASG nod.

Not sure I agree with the Patrick Kane selection — he’s Chicago’s fourth-leading scorer and on pace for a career-low in goals. Makes a mean burrito, though.

It’s probably a PR nightmare to leave Alex Ovechkin off the All-Star roster (for the first time in his career), but I don’t see how he’s more deserving than his Washington teammate, Nicklas Backstrom. Mike Knuble said Backstrom’s been the most consistent player on an inconsistent team. Backstrom also leads the Caps in scoring and 15th in the league in points.

Speaking of teammates making it over more deserving teammates: I didn’t like Corey Perry over Teemu Selanne or Kane over Patrick Sharp.

Rookies

Justin Faulk wins this year’s Representing Awful Team With Token Rookie Game Appearance award (last year it went to Florida’s Evgeny Dadonov.) No way he should be there ahead of Marc-Andre Gragnani or Jared Cowen.

Feel free to add your own All-Star Game surprises in the comments section.

  1. dougr42 - Jan 12, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    HARTNELL WAS ROBBED. He’s having the best year of his career and playing way better than Kane, Perry and Ovechkin.

    RAGE.

    • stakex - Jan 12, 2012 at 4:09 PM

      Hes only got 3 points more then Ovechkin, and hes playing on a team thats been playing far better then the Caps. He also has one point LESS then Kane does. I don’t really get how you could say hes playing “way” better then either of them. He does have the higher +- of the three, but +- is a very misleading stat and doesn’t do a good job of showing whos actually playing better.

      Thing is, your use to Harnell being a 3rd line, 45 point a year player. Now though, hes having a better year and it just SEEMS like hes playing like a super star. The reality of it is, Ovechkin is having a horrible year, and hes still playing just as well as Harnell… it only seems like hes playing worse since, well, were saying Ovechkin is playing as well as Hartnell. Its all about perspective. Remove the names from these player, and they would all look even.

      Ovechkin and Kane are the ones who get in since their names are more popular. Like it or not, the All Star game is a populatiry contest.

      • dougr42 - Jan 12, 2012 at 6:39 PM

        Well, I think you just helped me make my point. Ovi and Kane are playing well below their expected levels, why should they be rewarded for that? Hartnell is playing well above whats expected of him so he SHOULD be rewarded for that.

        Same thing with Versteeg. He deserves it way more than Ovi and Kane.

      • stakex - Jan 12, 2012 at 7:49 PM

        Don’t get me wrong, I do see where your coming from. However, I’m sure you could find a lot of players who are playing well above their expectations. Do they all deserve a trip to the All Star game simply becuase they are playing better then expected, even if they are still playing good but not great hockey?

        As I said, the All Star game is a popularity contest. Even if it wasn’t though, overall performance is how one would pick players. Hartnell might be on a career high, and well above expected pace, but its still not an amazing pace. Its amazing for him, but not compared to the rest of the league… which is how it should be judged in this context. In that case, its really a flip of the coin between Hartnell, Kane, Ovechkin right now.

  2. davebabychreturns - Jan 12, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    Ultimately, every team’s gotta send a player…

    • dougr42 - Jan 12, 2012 at 7:16 PM

      thats not even true. there are several without.

  3. mikebel11 - Jan 12, 2012 at 2:55 PM

    For a hockey writer you sure display a complete lack of understanding of how things work. Every team has to have a representative. That’s why Price, Koivu and Faulk are going. Ovechkin is the most entertaining player in the league and seems to be one of few that understand that the all-star game is about entertaining the fans. Patrick Sharp is injured, how could he play?

  4. rabidbillsfan - Jan 12, 2012 at 2:56 PM

    You really think MAG should go? If any rookie defensman should go from the Sabres, It’s Brayden McNabb. MAG has been better of late, but he has single handedly ended games for the Sabres. Half-Hearted Cross-Ice passes, poor decision making, and the only reason he’s a +12 is most of his playing time comes on the power play. McNabb has ben rock solid since coming up from Roc. He lays the wood, and has started to find his scoring element, he is the second best defensman on the team at this time.

  5. stakex - Jan 12, 2012 at 4:13 PM

    Ovechkin getting in isn’t a suprise at all. Sure his numbers aren’t really All Star quality right now, but that doesn’t matter. Ovechkin was the biggest draw at the skills competition the last couple years and with Crosby MIA, hes the main face of the NHL right now. There is simply no way in hell the league was going to keep him out of the ASG, which is more about selling the sport then it is about rewarding performance.

    In a fair world, player performance would be all that matters for being picked for the ASG… but its not a fair world, its a business world. Ovechkin sells, so he goes. It would have actually been a suprise if he wasn’t selected.

  6. towniesman - Jan 12, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    Bergeron being a complete all around great player works against him cuz he’s not a big mouth….cmon NHL Patrice is the man

  7. gbiscottagecheesefatties - Jan 12, 2012 at 7:13 PM

    @Mike Halford you are crazy to mention Mikko a surprise if you’re meaning he doesn’t deserve the nod. Mikko is an All-star but doesn’t put up the points due to his line and the fact he is a defensive / pass first center… Koivu wins games, period! Look at what happened to the Wild when he missed those games a few weeks ago, they were horrid and top lines were scoring against the Wild. Mikko shuts down top players and his plus / minus has been great on a team lacking scoring the past, well … ever…

    • stakex - Jan 12, 2012 at 7:58 PM

      Your right, there is no suprise that Koivu was picked for the All Star game. Perhaps not for the reason you listed, but simply because every team needs to send a player. Who the hell else would the Wild have sent if not Koivu? Seems like him being on the roster isn’t a suprise at all, but rahter a simple no brainer.

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