Its that time of year again when the NHL names its participants for the All-Star Game. Normally during an Olympic year, there is no All-Star game, however, this year’s All-Star game has a different feel to it. Regardless of where you stand on the Olympic debate, the All-Star game is coming and 40 of the best players are ascending on Tampa January 27 and 28.
Head coach Barry Trotz is the head coach for the Metropolitan Division and here is the roster:
Metropolitan Division (All-Star appearance)
Josh Bailey, NYI (1st) F
Sidney Crosby, PIT (3rd) F
Claude Giroux, PHI (5th) F
Taylor Hall, NJD (3rd) F
Alex Ovechkin, WSH* (7th) F
John Tavares, NYI (5th) F
Noah Hanifin, CAR (1st) D
Seth Jones, CBJ (2nd) D
Kris Letang, PIT (4th) D
Braden Holtby, WSH (3rd) G
Henrik Lundqvist, NYR (4th) G
Head Coach: Barry Trotz, WSH (3rd)
Initial Reaction and Surprises
At first glance, the Metro Division seems pretty balanced. With each team in the division being represented the Metro Division has a good chance winning the 3-on-3 game again. The New York Islanders have the most representatives with two. Josh Bailey is making his first all-star appearance while John Tavares is making is his fifth appearance in the game. Backstopping the Metro Division is Henrik Lundqvist and Braden Holtby as both goalies are having unbelievable seasons. While there were other names deserving of the nod, more on that later, these two are more than capable of leading the Metro Division to victory.
In addition to Alex Ovechkin making his seventh All-Star game, this will be only the third appearance for Sidney Crosby. In fact, Crosby thought he did not deserve to be an All-Star this season as he told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Crosby was elected for one reason, star power. That is the same reason Kris Letang was selected as well. Is Letang having an All-Star callable season? No way, but he is a big name. On the other hand, Claude Giroux is having a bounce-back season as he leads the team in points with 52. While some of his teammates deserve to go, everyone understands why Giroux was picked for the team.
Here is where fans get in an uproar. Remember, the All-Star game is about star power and name recognition, not about the season a player is having. While stats are factored into the equation, most players go to the All-Star based on past seasons. If the All-Star is about having fun, then a guy like Brian Boyle should be there. For what Boyle has battled through this season off the ice, he should be going to Tampa Bay, a place the fans know and love him. However, the NHL does not want another John Scott scenario. Though looking back the John Scott All-Star game was the most watched game in recent memory.
It is a shame that guys like Phil Kessel, Zach Werenski, Shayne Gostibehere, Sean Couturier, and Jakub Voracek are not going to the game. As matter of fact, the Flyers should be sending their entire top line because all those guys are deserving. Voracek is in the top six when it comes to NHL points. Most of the top 10 in NHL points are going to the game.
Other players that were deserving of going were Sergei Bobrovsky, John Carlson, and Cory Schneider. Bobrovsky’s numbers are better than both Schneider’s and Holtby’s, so in fact, he should be going. Regardless, the second Capital player that should be going is John Carlson. Carlson is in a contract year and has 34 points in 42 games. During this stretch, Carlson is averaging a career-high 26 minutes and is the anchor on the back end for the Washington Capitals.
Regardless of who is going there really are no snubs just notable omissions. The All-Star game is a fun for the fans and the players. A little fun fact about Taylor Hall at the All-Star Game. Hall, who is the lone representative from the New Jersey Devils, is 2-0 in this format of the All-Star game. Last year, Hall helped the Metropolitan Division claim the money. In 2016, in his last season with the Oilers, Hall was part of the winning Pacific Division squad. Look for that trend to continue at this game as well.