It pays to play for a Canadian hockey team when the NHL All-Star Game rolls around, particularly the Ottawa Senators in 2012. Now that the fan voting is officially over, the Senators hold the top three spots on offense and two of the top three spots on defense.
Now to be fair, Ottawa has done a lot in one season's time, and the team looks to be in a good position to make the playoffs after finishing in the bottom of the Eastern Conference last year. Though when it comes to the All-Star game, do all five of these players deserve to go?
Let's find out.
Daniel Alfredsson is no slouch and I'm all in when it comes to players nearing the end of their careers and still playing well, getting credit with an All-Star appearance. On the other hand, Alfredsson is 68th in the league in total points with 28 in 34 games. Again, respectable, but not good enough to start at right wing for the first team All-Stars.
With 40 points in 40 games, good enough for 11th in scoring, Jason Spezza is having a great season and should be included in this year's NHL All-Star game, though eclipsing names like Phil Kessel, Claude Giroux and both the Sedin brothers doesn't seem fair as they have all had more noteworthy seasons.
The only thing that makes sense about Milan Michalek being voted so high is that he's ranked below the previous two players. Michalek is on pace for his best season since 2007, but still ranks 78th in total points, which is high enough to be the number three forward.
As always, I'll give credit where credit is due. Karlsson leads all defenders in points and shots with 37 and 142 respectively. Seeing anyone else at the top of the final leaderboards for defensemen wouldn't make any sense in the world of hockey. Karlsson is right where he needs to be.
Sergei Gonchar is putting together a respectable season, and with the emergence of Karlsson is doing what he needs to do to help his team win, though it doesn't quite justify seeing him voted in higher then John Michael Liles, Dennis Wideman and Nicklas Lidstrom.
Who Deserved To Go?
No disrespect to the Senators, though it just goes to show us that fan balloting can be a strange thing. The argument can always be made, "It's not just about stats," and I would agree with that to a certain extent. When you're talking about the MVP of the league, the value a player has is directly related to his team and where they would be without him. This is why Corey Perry won the MVP last year ahead of Daniel Sedin and Martin St. Louis.
However the All-Star game is different. It's simply an extraction of the best players in the league, unrelated to their respective team's situation. In that regard stats mean a lot. Maybe not everything, but more then most would like to admit.
Either way, the Senators have a lot of great players who are giving their fans plenty to be excited about this year, and with that in mind we shouldn't be surprised by the voting.
Surprised or not, I'll give Ottawa three out of five: Spezza, Karlsson and Alfredsson.