LGS - Unlike last season, the Sabres have one player in the All-Star Game this season - Brian Campbell. Campbell is tied for sixth among NHL defensemen in points has been the Sabres best defenseman over the last two seasons. Even Yahoo! Sports NHL editor Ross McKeon took notice.
But McKeon, in his latest power rankings, said the following: "Brian Campbell. Tough to find an All-Star among this group this season. Ryan Miller, Derek Roy, Tim Connolly, Thomas Vanek should all be having better seasons, but that's the reason why the Sabres are only on pace for 80 points and a non-playoff finish."
I'll give McKeon Vanek. Vanek is certainly on pace to finish well off of his 84 point season a year ago. But Tim Connolly? Really? Before Connolly got injured, he was on pace to have a career year. In the 34 games he's played this year, he has 29 points (5G+24A). He also provided a jolt to the power play which struggled in Buffalo last season. There is certainly a difference with Connolly in the lineup.
And what about Roy? In 43 games this season, Roy has 35 points (16G+19A). Last season was Roy's best year, tallying 21 goals and 42 assists for 63 points - all career highs. Roy might fall short of besting his assists total from last year, but he is on pace to crush his career-high in goals. Maybe he's not an All-Star, but he certainly has played well for the Sabres.
Then there's Ryan Miller. Apparently if you're losing, it's the goaltender's fault. McKeon suggests that Miller needs improvement. But Miller has a career best 2.53 goals against average this season and is on pace to play in the most games he's ever played in one season.
So aside from Vanek, McKeon points the finger at the wrong players. What about Maxim Afinogenov, who has been on a steady decline since last season's playoff run? What about Toni Lydman? Lydman has been very inconsistent this season. And then there's Dmitri Kalinin, who had a great regular season last year with 29 points (7G+22A) but has only four assists this season, three of which came in Friday's game against Atlanta.
But McKeon's poor analysis didn't apply to only the Sabres. Take the Flyers' Mike Richards for example. This is what McKeon said of Richards being selected to his first All-Star Game: "Good to see Richards finally get recognition with his first All-Star selection even though the hockey world knew he was deserving before this."
If Mike Richards season ended today, he would have career highs in all major statistical categories - goals (21), assists (32), points (53), plus/minus rating (+15) and power play points (24). In his two previous seasons in the NHL, Richards recorded 34 points and 32 points, respectively. Let's say at each of those respective All-Star breaks he had half of his ending point total, that means he would've had 17 and 16, respectively. So how would that qualify him for the All-Star Game? Unless McKeon meant something else with his statements regarding Richards, apparently McKeon was sleeping before this NHL season.
Alright... one more piece of McKeon idiocy. His only reasoning for why Phoenix defenseman Ed Jovanovski should be left off the All-Star roster is Jovanovski's -9 plus/minus rating. When I mentioned earlier that Brian Campbell was tied for sixth among NHL defensemen in points, he's tied with Jovanovski. So yes, Jovanovski is deserving.
So who should be in (and out) of the All-Star Game? Here you go:
IN: Brian Rafalski, Detroit. Rafalski's 41 points are 2nd among all NHL defensemen. How can you snub this guy? Stats don't tell the whole story. Maybe it's because he's from Dearborn, Michigan and not from Edmonton (see Scott Niedermayer).
OUT: Scott Niedermayer, Anahiem. It would be one thing if the fans voted him in as a starter. Then you could at least point the finger at the fans for being morons. But he was named as a replacement over someone deserving like Rafalski. The Edmonton native has played in only 17 games this season.
IN: Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers. This is tough, because both the reserve goalies for the East team (Tomas Vokoun of Florida and Rick DiPietro from the New York Islanders) are the lone representatives for their respective teams. But I don't see anything wrong with Olli Jokinen representing Florida in place of Vokoun. But really, Lundqvist's 20 wins and 2.38 GAA are better than DiPietro and Vokoun's numbers. The Rangers have one representative - Scott Gomez. Jokinen has better numbers than Gomez and Lundqvist's numbers are better than Vokoun's.
OUT: Marc Savard, Boston and Tomas Kaberle, Toronto. Here's a two-for-one for you. I included Kaberle to make my point. Kaberle is Toronto's lone representative. I don't know how he could be picked over Mats Sundin and how Savard was picked over Sundin. In fact, instead of Savard and Kaberle, Sundin and Wade Redden. Redden is having a better overall season than Kaberle and Sundin is a deserving choice. Savard is borderline, but Kaberle is a tough sell.
Both All-Star rosters, regardless of their flaws, are pretty solid. The East lost last year 12-9 and I'm sure the style of play won't change this year. My prediction: 11-7 in favor of the East All-Stars. Marian Hossa is your MVP.