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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

NHL All-Star Team 2017 - Pacific Division

   The NHL All-Star team rosters were announced earlier today, and the Pacific Division will be well represented!  The team will be captained, as I'm sure you already know, by the Edmonton Oiler's Connor McDavid.  The head coach for the team will be from the San Jose Sharks, Peter DeBoer.  The full roster is as follows:


Forwards
     Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (C) plays Center: He is the youngest Captain in NHL history.  This will mark his first appearance at the NHL All-Star Weekend.  He has been a standout player not just for the Oilers, but for the NHL overall this season.  Along with the impressive play of Oilers Goalie Cam Talbot, and Defensman Milan Lucic he has kept his team in the top three positions in the the Pacific Division standings all season long.  He is on track to earn and astounding 94 points this season with a projected 37 goals and 66 assists if he continues to play as well as he has been in the second half of this season.  McDavid has 48 points so far this season with 14 goals and 34 assists in 43 games played.  

     Jeff Carter, Los Angeles Kings plays Center: This will be Carter's first appearance in the All-Star game in 8 years.  Carter is currently leading the Pacific Division in goals and is second in the NHL in goals so far this season.  He has 37 points with 22 goals and 15 assists in 41 games so far. 

     Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames plays Left Wing: This will be his second apperance in the NHL All-Star competition. Despite a 10 game absence due to surgery on a finger earlier this year Gaudreau, aka Johnny Hockey, is still tied for the Flames top performing with 27 points.  He has been generating a point per game over the last 16 games since his return for the injury.  So far this season Gaudreau has 27 points with 10 goals and 17 assists.  

     Bo Horvat, Vancouver Canucks plays Center: He is the youngest Canuck to make the All-Star team at 21 since 1991 when Trevor Linden made the team at age 20.  He is reported a being one of the most exciting player to watch on the Canucks team, and one of their best examples showing how the Canucks are becoming a more competitive force in the Pacific Division.  He currently leads the Canuks in both points and goals season to date.  Horvat has 29 points with 13 goals and 16 assists in 43 games played so far this season.

     Ryan Kesler, Anaheim Ducks plays Center: This will be Kesler's 2nd All-Star appearance.  He is tied for team lead on the Ducks in goal with Rikkard Rakel at 16 each.  Ryan Getzlaf is quoted as saying that Kesler has been their best player all season now questions asked.  Kesler is on track to match or exceed his career high year 2010-11 where he had 41 goals and 32 assists by season end.  So far for this season Kesler has 35 points with 16 goals and 19 assists in 42 games.

     Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks plays Center: Joe Pavelski will be appearing in his 3rd All-Star competition this year.  This season Pavelski is tied for 13th in the league in points scored at 37, and tied for 7th in game winning goals with 7.  In the Pacific division he is tied for 5th in goals scored at 15.  For the Sharks team Pavelski is tied for first on goals and second on assists both with Brett Burns. He has 37 points with 15 goals and 22 assists in 40 games so far this season.  

Defensemen

     Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks: This will be Brett Burns' fourth career appearance at the All-Star competition.  He was not a a surprising choice for the team as he has consistently been one of the leagues to scoring defensemen and is among the favorites so far this season for the Norris trophy.  Burns so far this season has 39 points with 15 goals and 24 assists in 40 games played.

     Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings: This will be Doughty's third consecutive appearance in the All-Star Tournament.  He also won the Norris Trophy last season.  Doughty is one of the leading defensemen in the division in both goals and points.  As of last night he was also holding the third place spot in the league  in time on ice for a defenseman.  So far this season Doughty has 22 points with 7 goals and 15 assists in 41 games.

     Cam Fowler, Anaheim Ducks: This will be Fowler's first ever appearance in the All-Star competition.  He has had an impressive defensive presence for the Ducks all season long.  Fowler has 9 goals so far this season placing him just behind Brett Burns and Shea Weber in most goals scored by defenders league wide.  Season to date he has 22 points with 9 goals and 13 assists in 43 games played. 

Goaltenders

     Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks: This will be his first time playing in the All-Star game.  As of right now Jones is ranked third in the league in wins at 20 and ninth in the league in goals against average at 2.22.  This is his second season as a starting goaltender in the NHL and he has performed very well for the Sharks these last 2 seasons.  I believe that he is the main reason that the Sharks were able to make it all the way to the final round in the playoffs last season.  In a career 134 NHL games Jones has a goals against average of 2.19 and a save percentage of .919.  This Season Jones has a goals against average of 2.22 and a save percentage of .917 in 35 games played.

     Mike Smith, Arizona Coyotes: This will be also be Smith's first appearance at the All-Star game.  Smith was the most surprising selection to the team for the pacific division. That is not to say he is not deserving, he has had a stand out season and is on track to turn in his best season performance since his 2011-12 career high season where he had a .930 save percentage.  Still most of us were expecting to see the Coyotes representative to the All-Stars being Oliver Ekman-Larsson, or perhaps Max Domi.  That being said however often times it is only the great, and sometimes even outstanding performance of Mike Smith in goal that has allowed the Coyotes the win games or at least keep the scores close.  Unfortunately the recent 9 game losing streak that the Coyotes have had have taken their toll on Smith's numbers.  On paper Smiths save percentage is just ever so slightly higher than Martin Jones'.  This season Smith has a goals against average of 2.83 and a save percentage of .918 in 24 games played.

Congratulations to all of the talented players selected from the Pacific Division for the 2017 All-Star Team!

     This is what your Pacific Division All-Star team will look like on January 28th and 29th barring any injuries or illnesses of the above listed players.  You will notice there are a few notable absences from the list.  The first missing player or snub if you will is the Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot.  Though Mike Smith has indeed been having a remarkable season, especially given the fact that his team, the Coyotes, is definitely not having a good season I think Talbot should have been the second goalie alongside Jones representing the Pacific Division.  His stats are comparable to Smith's and he has played in 14 more games than Smith this season.  Talbot's team is also in contention to make the playoffs for the first time in a decade! This is surely a large part due to Talbot's outstanding performance in goal.   The second player who I would have liked to see make the cut for the All-Star team is Anze Kopitar.  Admittedly Kopirtar's numbers are not nearly as strong this year as they have been in past seasons.  However Kopitar has played a key role both in leadership and on ice presence in the Kings performance this season, keeping them in the running for the playoffs.  The injury of Jonathan Quick in the opening game of the season upset the Kings style of play and confidence as a team, then losing Gaborik and McNabb for extended periods due to injury further disrupted the Kings lineup.  Despite these issues Kopitar has helped to motivate his team and adapt to a style of play that would support Peter Budaj and keep the team with a positive win loss record thus far in the season.  I will also note that Kopitar has the exact same number of points as does Jonathan Towes of the Blackhawks who made the Central Division All-Star Team.  

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