Ah, let the bellyaching of all-star snubbery begin.
The roster for the January 29th NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles have been announced, consisting of four 11-player teams for the game, which will take the same format as last season; with three 20-minute three-on-three games; two semifinals and final between the two winners.
The game will be headlined by a pair of rookies in Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine while a number of other regulars, which include Evegeni Malkin, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Alexander Ovechkin, and Shea Weber make out the rest of the collection of players that will be on hand. Sidney Crosby is expect to play in the game for the first time since 2007.
Some notable players left out include a pair of players in the top 10 of the NHL in scoring so far this season in Cam Atkinson and Artemi Panarin. Kings star pivot Anze Kopitar was also left off, costing the Los Angeles fan favorite a chance to play in front of his home crowd.
Also left off the roster, sadly, was 2016 All-Star Game MVP John Scott.
The Pacific Division won last year’s first-of-its-kind event with a 1-0 win over the Atlantic in the final. Back for the Pacific this year are forwards Joe Pavelski and Johnny Gaudreau along with defensemen Brent Burns and Drew Doughty. Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry, who scored the winning goal, is not at the game this year, but the division need not worry as it adds the current NHL leading scorer Connor McDavid (48 points) and Jeff Carter, who is second in the NHL with 22 goals.
Taylor Hall, who helped the Pacific win last season, will now play for the Metro Division as a member of the New Jersey Devils. The Metro Division will be highlighted by Crosby, expected to play in the All-Star Game for the first time since 2007. He’d been elected four times since, but had withdrawn all four times due to injury.
While the Metro Division is the strongest in the league, look for the Atlantic Division to be favored along with the Central.
The Atlantic, last year’s runner-up, will be anchored by two of the best goalies in the NHL this season in Tuukka Rask and Carey Price. Up front, Matthews will be the highlight in what could be his true coming-out party, and is surrounded by Brad Marchand, Nikita Kucherov, Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo, and Vincent Trocheck. Victor Hedman, Erik Karlsson, and Shea Weber make up what is likely the best blue line at the event.
With that said about the trio on the back end for the Atlantic, their counterpart from the Central will certainly have something to say, with Duncan Keith, P.K. Subban, and Ryan Suter out back. Up front, there’s little let-up with Kane, Toews, Laine, Vladimir Tarasenko, Tyler Seguin, and Nathan MacKinnon. Corey Crawford and Devan Dubnyk mind the net. Eek.