There are a few more weeks before the NHL selects the Eastern Conference All-Star team but here are my selections to this point.
WAS Alexander Ovechkin ‚Äì PIT Sidney Crosby ‚Äì PIT Evgeni Malkin
MON Andrei Markov ‚Äì BOS Zdeno Chara
BOS Tim Thomas
WAS Ovechkin ( 40pts) ‚Äì PIT Crosby (44pts) ‚Äì PIT Malkin (49pts)
Insiders Take:Doesn‚Äôt get any better than this dream line. Crosby gets the two best players in the league as his wingers. Hopefully Ovechkin wouldn‚Äôt try to take out Malkin at every opportunity.
BUF Vanek (24 goals) ‚Äì BOS Savard (26 assists) ‚Äì PHI Carter (21 goals)
Insiders Take: Marc Savard is one the game‚Äôs best playmakers and Carter/Vanek are two of the games most prolific goal scorers. A perfect match.
PHI Gagne (34 pts) ‚Äì PHI Richards (34 pts) ‚Äì NJD Parise (34pts)
Insiders Take: Richards is one of the games top two way players and Parise is the league‚Äôs most under-rated player. A line that could play in any kind of role.
WAS Semin (30 pts) ‚Äì WAS Backstrom (31pts) ‚Äì BOS Kessel(19 goals)
Insiders Take: Kessel is the main reason the Bruins sit atop the Eastern Conference. Semin is a tough call because he missed over 10 games but 30 pts in 19 games warrant‚Äôs a spot in the All-Star game. Backstrom is a dynamic playmaker.
1. Ilya Kovalchuk (30 pts) ‚Äì too inconsistent this season but 30 pts on the Thrashers is impressive
2. Nikolai Zherdev (30 pts) ‚Äì I have been impressed with Zherdev this year but only 10 goals on the year keeps him off my list.
3. OTT Dany Heatley (28pts) ‚Äì Still on pace for 38 – 41 goals this season but he‚Äôs been too inconsistent to deserve a spot over a player like Semin.
4. NJD Patrik Elias (29pts) ‚Äì Elias has had a very good season and would likely be my 13th selection. Elias is also a +11 on the season.
5. BOS David Krejci ( 29 pts) ‚Äì 21 assists on the season and a +15.
MON Markov (24pts) ‚Äì BOS Chara (15pts)
Insiders Take: While fans in Montreal have stuffed the ballot boxes, Markov is the one player that deserves to start in the All-Star game. Chara has been a force at both ends of the ice for the Conference leading Bruins.
NYI Streit (21 pts) ‚Äì FLA Bouwmeester (18pts)
Insiders Take: Streit ranks second in points among defenseman in the Eastern Conference. Bouwmeester averages 27:47 per game and has three goals in his last four games.
WAS Green (19 pts) ‚Äì BOS Wideman (18pts)
Insiders Take: Green was another selection who was a tough call because he missed 10 games. In 20 games, Green has 19 points and is a +10. Those kind of numbers deserve serious consideration to make the All-Star Game despite missing 10 games. Wideman is in the top 5 in points for defenseman (Eastern Conference) and is a +13.
1. OTT Filip Kuba ( 20 pts)
2. PHI Kimmo Timonen (18 pts)
1. BOS Tim Thomas ‚Äì 12-3-3 (1.96 GAA)
Insiders Take: Thomas has performed above expectations this season and leads the NHL with a 1.96 GAA. Backup goaltender Manny Fernandez has been just as good posting a 9-2-1 record.
2. NYR Henrik Lundqvist 17-9-2 (2.54 GAA)
Insiders Take: Lundqvist has had a few shaky outings lately but he leads the NHL in wins and the Rangers would be a mediocre team without him.
3. FLA Craig Anderson 8-3-3 (2.15 GAA)
Insiders Take: Anderson needs four more appearances to be elgible for the All-Star Game. He is my tentative pick for now but without Anderson the Panthers wouldn‚Äôt be two points out of the playoffs.
1. Carey Price 13-4-4 (2.37 GAA) ‚Äì Statistically he should make the All-Star game but Anderson has meant more to his team this season.
2. Marc Andre Fleury 8-3-2 (2.86 GAA) ‚Äì Fleury has only played in 14 games and needs 6 more appearances to be eligible for the All-Star Game. Still, his value to Penguins was evident in his absent.
All statistics were as of 12/16/08