|Connelly’s Top Ten: Comebacks, Championships and Doobie Brothers||Patriots 2014-2015 Position Review: Quarterbacks||Cubs Hire Manny, Youkilis to Try to Become ’04 Red Sox…Literally||Red Sox 2015 Preview: Buchholz, Porcello, Miley, Masterson, Kelly|
The NHL announced Tuesday the remaining 36 players named to the 2011 All-Star Game, to be played in Raleigh, NC later this month. That batch of the league’s elite included two Bruins, with goalie Tim Thomas and defenseman Zdeno Chara getting the nod. Also, Tyler Seguin, the team’s highly touted rookie, will join 11 other rookies from around the league in the Honda SuperSkills competition.
Thomas has had a simply amazing start to the season. He is currently leading the league in goals against average (1.84) and save percentage (.944), while tied for the top spot in shutouts (5). It’s the third All-Star nomination for the veteran, having been the winning goaltender in the league’s two previous All-Star games, back in 2008 and 2009. (The league did not hold All-Star festivities last season because of the Winter Olympics.)
For Chara, this marks the fifth All-Star nomination of his career. While his offensive statistics are down from prior years (just six goals and 18 points overall), the towering team captain leads the team in ice time (26:38, third in NHL), and has won the league’s hardest shot competition for three consecutive contests. In 2009, Chara blasted a 105.4 mph shot in the SuperSkills competition, setting the record.
Seguin will participate with 11 other rookies in this year’s version of the Honda SuperSkills competition. The youngster has six goals and eight assists in 39 games played for the Black and Gold.
With the new format of this year’s All-Star Game however, it is possible that we’ll see Chara and Thomas on opposite teams. Instead of the standard conference vs. conference format of prior years, the league will name two captains and hold a fantasy-like player draft on the Friday night before the game. Captains will go back and forth, choosing amongst the 40 remaining All-Stars, which could make for some interesting rosters and pairings. For instance, it’s possible we see Big Z lining up top-speed slappers aimed towards Thomas, or the two Sedin twins facing off against each other, or rivals Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin skating on the same line for the same team. For those that pay attention closely to how it’ll all work, it should make for an entertaining weekend of NHL hockey.
The fantasy draft, Honda SuperSkills competition, and All-Star Game will all be televised on Versus in the U.S., with the draft Friday, January 28th at 8pm, the SuperSkills beginning at 7pm Saturday the 29th, and the 58th NHL All-Star Game dropping the puck at 4pm Sunday the 30th.