The All Post-Lockout Team: Atlantic Division
In the second part of what's going to be a six-part series, I'm naming the All Post-Lockout Atlantic Division team.
With the Northeast Division already done, it's time to move south to the next closest division. The concept is simple, the team is named based off of stats taken from the 2005-06 season and onward (or post-NHL lockout if you will).
First Line: Evgeni Malkin—Sidney Crosby—Brian Gionta
Love him or hate him, Sidney Crosby is the clear-cut choice for the No. 1 center spot on this roster; he would perhaps be my No. 1 pick if I were making an all-NHL team.
The Pittsburgh captain has scored 100 points or higher in three out of four NHL seasons, and in the only season he failed to reach the 100 mark, Crosby was sidelined for 29 of the Penguins regular season games. His 175 points on the advantage during his short, yet illustrious career put him in a class of his own.
Often playing alongside Crosby for the Penguins is Evgeni Malkin, who ironically is playing alongside him on this loaded team. It's even debate-worthy as to who possesses more skill, Malkin or Crosby?
The 2009 Conn Smyth winner has proven to be a model of consistency for the Penguins, as his three straight seasons of 30 or more goals along with 50-plus assists have given the Penguins another superstar to complement Crosby.
On the right wing, and perhaps the division's fastest skater, is long-time Devil Brian Gionta. Although Gionta traded in his Devils' sweater for a blood-red Canadiens' jersey this off-season, the consistent numbers posted by Gionta deem him worthy of a spot on the first line of this roster.
Gionta's best season ultimately came in 2005-06, where he put up 89 points, including 10 game-winning goals for the Devils.
Second Line: Zach Parise—Mike Richards—Jeff Carter
Following a debacle of a season in the City of Brotherly Love, a renaissance of great magnitude has happened for the team formerly known as the Broad Street Bullies. They're back as a contender in the Eastern Conference.
This turnaround can ultimately be due to the increasing maturity of both Jeff Carter and Mike Richards into phenomenal players for the black and orange.
Carter, who will be turning just 25 when the Flyers take the ice at Fenway Park this year, has become a supreme goal scoring threat in the NHL.
His 46 goals were tops amongst Flyers, and his 24 points on the power play were a large factor in the success of the Flyers.
Centering this line is Mike Richards (no, not the man who played Kramer on Seinfeld), the captain of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Richards has become a model of what hard work and never quitting can do for a club, as his strong two-way play is recognized throughout the entire NHL.
In 2008-09, Richards reached the 80 point plateau for the first time in his career and was named a finalist for the Frank Selke Trophy.
On the left wing is rising star and Devils' sniper, Zach Parise. The 17th overall pick of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft was always known to have potential, but that potential, which turned out to be a 45-goal scorer in 2008-09 campaign, was a surprise to most.
Parise is coming off of a 95-point season for the defending Atlantic Division champs and with the departure of Gionta, it seems that the torch to carry the Devils' (lack of) offense is solely on the 25-year-old Minnesota native.
Third Line: Simon Gagne—Chris Drury—Brendan Shanahan
Undoubtedly, the most veteran-savy line of the Atlantic Team, but perhaps the most sneaky one, offensively. There's no questioning the fact that this line is loaded with leadership as both Gagne and Shanny have become regulars with "A's" on their jersey, while Drury is currently the captain of the New York Rangers.
In two years with the Blueshirts, Drury has posted great numbers on the power play...39 out of Drury's 114 career points with the Rangers have been scored on the advantage. For one of those years, Drury was playing alongside Brendan Shanahan, who has been placed on this third line as the right winger.
In just two years with the Rangers, Shanahan provided a strong veteran presence and contributed 108 total points in 140 games.
After sitting out the first half of the 2008-09 season, Shanahan returned to the New Jersey Devils, his first NHL team. This offseason, he has resigned for another year in Newark.
Simon Gagne, a life-long Flyer, has without question come into his own following a devastating bout with post-concussion syndrome, which sidelined him for 52 games of the 2007-08 season. In his three fully healthy seasons since the lockout, Gagne has averaged over 40 goals a season.
Fourth Line: Patrik Elias—Scott Gomez—Jamie Langenbrunner
This line has New Jersey written all over it, doesn't it? Oh, wait...
Patrik Elias, a career long Devil has experienced great success with New Jersey's top line throughout his tenure. His 78 points in 2008-09 proved to be a career high since the lockout and his knack for scoring timely goals earns him a spot on this list.
Although the Scott Gomez era flopped in New York, the 29-year-old center has put up 40 assists or more in the four seasons following the lockout. The 2009-10 season will present Gomez with a new task: playing in the Northeast Division for the Montreal Canadiens.
Jamie Langenbrunner, the New Jersey captain has continuously put together solid seasons under the defensive system practiced in the Lou philosophy.
Extra Skaters: Bill Guerin and Ruslan Fedotenko
Ruslan Fedotenko, although a seemingly odd choice for this team given his rather average numbers, has had tenures in both Pittsburgh and on Long Island. His scrappy style of play and ability to dig in the corners makes him a solid candidate for a spot in the press box on this talented squad.
Like Fedotenko, Bill Guerin has spent seasons with both the Isles and Pens. His veteran presence and ability to work in front of the net make him a valuable addition.
Defensive Pairing One: Sergei Gonchar and Kimmo Timonen
Perhaps the most underrated signing during the NHL Lockout that postponed the 2004-05 season, the Penguins' puck-mover Sergei Gonchar has continued to be a force from the blue-line.
From the 2005-06 season through the 2007-08, Gonchar put up 30 or more assists on the power play for Pittsburgh and even in the 2008-09 season where he was held to just 25 games, the Russian defenseman put up 19 points, 13 of which coming with a man advantage.
Since being acquired from the Nashville Predators, the addition of Kimmo Timonen into the Flyers' lineup has undoubtedly helped their defense monumentally.
Along with staying healthy, providing a veteran presence and being a valuable commodity in the NHL as a "puck-moving defenseman," Timonen has done everything but bring the Cup back to Philly.
In just two seasons at the Wachovia Center, Timonen has become a captain of the Flyers blue-line. His 35-plus assists in both seasons have proved to be pivotal in the return of Philadelphia to NHL relevancy.
Defensive Pairing Two: Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin
Perhaps the most defensive minded pairing on this team, both Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin play pivotal roles on their respective clubs, even if their names are not found on your scoring sheet as often as one would like.
Orpik, a physically menacing figure on the Penguins blue-line has truly come into his own throughout his tenure in Pittsburgh.
The Penguins' first-round draft choice from the 2000 NHL Entry Draft is coming off of a bruising 2008-09 season, where he was credited for 309 hits and 152 blocked shots. Along with being a model of what a defensive minded defenseman is all about, Orpik chipped in for 19 points, a career high.
In New Jersey, does any defenseman scream Devils brand of hockey more than Paul Martin? In his four seasons since the lockout, Martin has put up at least 25 points or more and has a Plus/Minus rating of 33.
Defensive Pairing Three: Marc Staal and Radek Martinek
Marc Staal may not be the point producer like his two brothers, who center lines for both the Penguins and Hurricanes, but simply put, Marc Staal gets the job done.
Staal is making great strides in what seems to be a promising career. In 2008-09, the 22-year-old threw 189 successful hits along with 41 takeaways and averaging just under three minutes of short handed ice time.
You know the past few seasons have been a wash in Long Island when Radek Martinek is your lone representation who currently remains on your roster.
This is by no means a knock to the Slovakian defenseman, but he's been one of the long marks of consistency on the Isles blue-line as he's proved to be a solid penalty killer.
He finished second to Brendan Witt on short-handed ice time and was second behind Mark Streit for total time on ice per game. His average of just under 15 points a season makes him a solid choice as the sixth defenseman on this club.
Goaltenders: Martin Brodeur and Henrik Lundqvist
It should be no mystery to anyone who the goaltenders of this squad were going to be.
Starting, of course, is perhaps the best goaltender to ever play. Although argued vehemently by Canadiens fans, the stats don't lie as Marty Brodeur is the NHL's all-time leader in wins by a goaltender.
Although Martin Brodeur is beginning to show signs of being human, as his postseason stats are beginning to dip, the fact remains that he's one of the game's all-time greats between the pipes.
Backing him up is the King of Sweden and perhaps even New York, Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers' backbone and Olympic Gold Medalist has proved to be an asset to the Rangers as he's posted solid season after solid season and quickly became an iron-man in between the pipes.
With 20 shutouts since 2005-06, three Vezina Trophy nominations, and a trip to the 2009 NHL All-Star Game, his selection to this team is a no-brainer.
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