BUFFALO -- Claude Giroux was surprised.
He was not stunned to be selected to the All-Star Game - as he has collected 36 points in 41 games this season - but totally shocked to be the only player representing the Flyers in Raleigh, N.C. from Jan. 28-30.
“It’s a great honor,” Giroux said. “Something that only you dream about as a kid.
“But there are so many guys that could have been on this team easily. I feel I’m pretty lucky to be there.”
The NHL released the final 36 players selected to the game on Tuesday, as chosen by the NHL’s hockey operations department.
Somehow, the Flyers - who have led the Eastern Conference for almost the entire first half of the season - ended up with just one player in Giroux. Peter Laviolette will be behind the bench as one of the co-head coaches with Vancouver’s Alain Vigneault.
Here were the other players you could have made a case for:
-Danny Briere: team-leading 21 goals and 12 assists in 38 games
-Mike Richards: 13 goals, team-leading 27 assists in 41 games
-Jeff Carter: 16 goals, 18 assists in 41 games
-Chris Pronger: 15 points in 31 games
-Kimmo Timonen: 18 points from the blue line
And while Ville Leino and Matt Carle have put together nice seasons, you had a feeling they just weren’t in the mix because of the numbers game.
Briere thought the reason he was bypassed may have been his three-game suspension.
“I’m not surprised that I was bypassed,” Briere said. “Obviously with what happened with the suspension, and Colin Campbell getting involved, I’m not surprised. What I’m a little surprised is that we have just one player.
“There’s no doubt that Claude was deserving, but with our record I thought we could have had at least another one. Maybe Kimmo or Matty Carle or Carter or Mike Richards.
“I thought we deserved at least one more.”
Each team will be composed of 12 forwards, 6 defensemen and 3 goalies. Twelve rookies were selected to participate in the SuperSkills competition, but Sergei Bobrovsky was left off that list as no goalies were selected among rookies.
The teams will be selected by two sets of captains going back and forth in a “fantasy” type draft.
Sound like a gimmick?
The NHL also supposedly removed the requirement that every team needed to have at least one representative in the game. They did that, but made sure that at least a rookie from every team was included - even though they won’t actually play in the game.
Here’s a list of the teams and their selections.
Sidney Crosby* F
Evgeni Malkin* F
Kris Letang* D
Marc-Andre Fleury* G
Jonathan Toews* F
Duncan Keith* D
Patrick Kane F
Patrick Sharp F
Ryan Kesler F
Henrik Sedin F
Daniel Sedin F
CAROLINA (2): HOST
Eric Staal F
Cam Ward G
(Jeff Skinner - rookie)
Corey Perry F
Jonas Hiller G
(Cam Fowler - rookie)
Dustin Byfuglien D
Tobias Enstrom D
Zdeno Chara D
Tim Thomas F
(Tyler Seguin - rookie)
Loui Eriksson F
Brad Richards F
NEW YORK RANGERS (2):
Marc Staal D
Henrik Lundqvist G
(Derek Stepan - rookie)
TAMPA BAY (2):
Steven Stamkos F
Marty St. Louis F
Alex Ovechkin F
Mike Green D
Jarome Iginla F
Matt Duchene F
(Kevin Shattenkirk - rookie)
Rick Nash F
Nicklas Lidstrom D
Ales Hemsky F
(Jordan Eberle - rookie)
(Taylor Hall - rookie)
LOS ANGELES (1):
Anze Kopitar F
Brent Burns D
Carey Price G
Shea Weber D
NEW JERSEY (1):
Patrik Elias F
Erik Karlsson D
Claude Giroux F
SAN JOSE (1):
Dan Boyle D
(Logan Couture - rookie)
ST. LOUIS (1):
David Backes F
Phil Kessel F
* denotes selected in fan balloting
Teams with no representatives in All-Star Game:
Buffalo (Tyler Ennis, rookie)
Florida (Evgeni Dadonov, rookie)
N.Y. Islanders (Michael Grabner, rookie)
Phoenix (Oliver Ekman-Larsson, rookie)
Now, I am OK with Carolina having two representatives since they are the host city, that is perfectly normal.
Here are some of the questionable selections, in my opinion:
-Ales Hemsky (Edmonton): just 24 points, albeit it in 27 games. The terrible Oilers already had two rookies in the game.
-Marc Staal (Rangers): Is Staal in the game in Carolina just because of his last name?
-Ryan Kesler (Vancouver): Yes, Daniel and Henrik Sedin both warranted selections. But Kesler? He has 40 points in 41 games. What’s the big deal?
-Tobias Enstrom (Atlanta): Sure, Atlanta has been one of the surprises of the East and Enstrom’s point total as a defenseman is impressive. But what have the Thrashers done to warrant two selections?
-David Backes (St. Louis): Backes’ numbers are below Richards, Briere and Carter but I’m OK with it because he is St. Louis’ only selection.
-Patrik Elias (New Jersey): No one from the Devils deserved to be selected.
-Erik Karlsson (Ottawa): Has Karlsson really distinguished himself as an All-Star? Yikes.
It’s clear that the Flyers distinguished themselves this season - as have the Detroit Red Wings - to be a team of more than one All-Star.
“I think it might be good,” Briere said. “It would have been a nice honor. [But] it might be favorable for our team to get the weekend off and get some rest.”
“I think you could certainly make a case for others,” Laviolette said. “There’s lots of guys in here that are having great years. I think our success has come from a lot of different players. I’m sure other teams are thinking the same way. We’ve relied on the entire team.”
BOB IN NET: Sergei Bobrovsky will make his first start of the New Year tonight against the Sabres at HSBC Arena. Bobrovsky has lost his lat two starts, giving up a total of 9 goals against to Florida and Anaheim.
Bobrovsky beat Buffalo earlier in the season at the Wells Fargo Center.
“We wanted to get him back in,” Laviolette said. “Knowing that Bob beat Buffalo before, there’s no set plan but that’s something in the back of my mind. Now that we are back down to two (goalies), we wanted to get him back going again.”
SLAP SHOTS: Nik Zherdev will be a healthy scratch tonight against Buffalo. Laviolette said earlier on Monday that Zherdev was available (and healthy) for him to use ... Defenseman Matt Walker skated in the morning for the first time without a non-contact jersey.
For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers
More on the NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft:
As previously announced, the NHL, working in conjunction with the National Hockey League Players’ Association, replaced the traditional conference vs. conference format for the All-Star teams with a player draft that will determine the team rosters for the 2011 NHL All-Star Game presented by Discover as well as the Honda NHL SuperSkills®. The Jan. 28 NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft powered by Cisco will be televised live nationwide on TSN and RDS in Canada and VERSUS in the U.S. at 8 p.m. ET from NHL Fan Fair™ at the Raleigh Convention Center.
A coin toss will decide first pick with the team captains, joined by their two alternate captains, alternately drafting the 36 remaining All-Stars through 18 rounds. Each team will consist of three goalies, six defensemen and 12 forwards total. For sake of fairness in the draft, the captain and alternate captains for each team will consist of two forwards and one defenseman. Also, to ensure that the final draft picks are true selections and not simply predetermined due to position requirements, each team’s three goalies must be picked by the end of Round 10 and each team’s six defensemen must be picked by the conclusion of Round 15.
The 12 Rookies participating in the Honda NHL SuperSkills® will be divided by the NHL into two groups of six. At the completion of the 15th round of the NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft powered by Cisco, one NHL Rookie will be selected to choose which All-Star team his group will join for the skills competition. Details on fan access to the NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft powered by Cisco will be announced in the coming weeks.
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