Atlantic Division’s All-Stars Dominated By Lightning
With the 63rd edition of the NHL All-Star game coming up in just a month in Tampa, it’s time to look at the possible makeup of each team. The contest will once again follow last year’s 3-on-3 format, with each division composing a team with seven forwards, three defensemen, and two goalies. The captain will be voted on by the fans with the rest of the team rounded out by selections from the NHL Hockey Operations Staff. Each team is required to have one representative.
First we take a look at the Atlantic. The conference to date has been dominated by the Tampa Bay Lightning, holding a league leading 56 points. Aside from their success, though, there haven’t been many other narratives in the division. Here are the picks for the team:
|Tampa Bay||Forward||Steven Stamkos (C)|
|Tampa Bay||Forward||Nikita Kucherov|
|Tampa Bay||Goalie||Andrei Vasilevskiy|
The Tampa duo of Stamkos and Kucherov should be no brainers. Stamkos has led the fan voting in the division and Kucherov is right behind him. They hold the fourth and first most points in the NHL respectively. They do not need a further argument.
Same should go for their goaltender. Vasilevskiy has the top spot for goals allowed average and save percentage, as well as goals saved above average. An average goalie would have allowed over 19 more goals than Vasy on the same amount of shots.
Erik Karlsson has the highest corsi relative percentage among d-men who have played at least 26 games, with his team controlling 8.5% less total shots with him off the ice. He is still the best player on the Senators, and is doing his best without his usual defense partner in crime Mark Methot.
Kane and Jack Eichel are both in play for a selection, but Kane is currently holding the lead in points as well as advanced stats including Corsi. Eichel is not having the best year in the face-off circle, only winning about 40% of his draws, and is not logging that much more time on ice. Kane has played like an all-star.
A duo of Huberdeau, Barkov, and Vincent Trocheck should make the team. Trocheck and Huberdeau are third and fourth in scoring in the Atlantic, but Barkov has scored four short-handed goals and is logging the most ice time among forwards in the division. Trocheck is also logging a negative relative corsi, meaning the Panthers are controlling less than 50% of shots with him on the ice. Huberdeau and Barkov are second and third on the team in relative corsi percentage. Two out of the three Panthers deserve a spot on the team.
Marchand and David Pastranak will be fighting for a spot on the final roster. The two are almost identical in terms of stats, and that selection will be decided by what both players accomplish in the coming weeks.
Just Made The Cut
Mike Green, Frederik Anderson, and Shea Weber benefit from every team having a representative. They also take advantage of a relatively weaker crop compared to other divisions.
Green benefits from a tough go for the entire Red Wings franchise and a crowded forward group. He has been having a decent season with 21 points through 36 games. There is not much else to say about his game, but he has been a bright spot in a nightmare season for Detroit.
Fredrick Anderson is on my list as the Toronto representative due to the fact that Auston Matthews has missed a few too many games to have the numbers that other forwards have put up. Anderson is sixth in save percentage but 14th in goals against average due to seeing the most shots of any goalie.
Weber is similarly in due to the fact that Montreal does not have a single forward that is scoring above 21 points, with none in the top 50 of NHL scorers.
The forwards in the Atlantic division are the stars, and there isn’t a bevy of defenseman who are really ‘no doubt’ picks, but we do still have some snubs.
Victor Hedman deserves a spot as a fourth Tampa Bay All-Star. He leads the division’s defensemen in scoring and is posting a +18 on the season. He is undoubtedly the most deserving defenseman but may not make the team due to no forward from Ottawa, Detroit, or Montreal deserving a selection.
Auston Matthews is probably the biggest snub here, but his injuries and missed games might prevent him from making the team. If he dominates games over the next week or so, he has a chance to replace one of the two Panthers’ forwards.
Tuukka Rask has a chance to slot in at the second goalie spot and replace Anderson should Matthews make the team. Rask is second in goals allowed average and 10th in save percentage. Boston has been winning in recent weeks and Rask has a chance to make his second All-Star appearance.
Edited by Joe Sparacio.
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