As we all know by now the All-Star game roster has been set. Claude Giroux was the only Flyer selected to the roster. Giroux has returned to the level of play that made him a runner-up for the 2013-14 Hart Memorial Trophy and the cover of the EA SPORTS NHL 13.
Giroux is currently tied for second in the scoring race with 52 points and also tied for second in assists in the entire league with 38. Giroux is on pace for 28 goals, 78 assists, and 104 points this season all would tie or surpass career highs for him.
Last season Wayne Simmonds was the Flyers selection and won the MVP of the All-Star game and this year Claude Giroux is the sole Flyers player going to the All-Star game. The bigger story is who is not going to the game from the Flyers.
Jakub Voracek is the first player we will profile. Voracek is currently 6th in overall scoring in the league trailing Giroux by only one point with 51 in total. He also leads the league in assists by five over his teammate Claude Giroux. At it currently stands Voracek is on pace for 35 goals, 84 assists, and 100 points at the end of the year.
Sean Couturier is up next, Couturier is currently fourth in goal scoring in the league with 23. He trails Alex Ovechkin by only three goals after the halfway point of the season. Couturier is having the best season of his career after spending most of his playing time on the third line attempting to shut down the opposing team’s top players. Couturier has surpassed his career high in goals (15) and points (39) with half the season to go. Couturier is on pace to have 46 goals, 38 assists, and 84 points at the end of the season.
Shayne Gostisbehere is the final player we will review. Gostisbehere is coming off a year in which he went backwards in the level of his play. Multiple things attributed to the drop in play for Gostisbehere. His surgery in the offseason, other teams getting a season to scout him, the players he was playing with, and the frequent benching by the coach all helped feed into the underachieving play from Gostisbehere last season. This year is different for Ghost, he looks like he has returned to the level of play that made him a fan favorite. Gostisbehere currently sits second overall in goals by a defenceman with nine and fourth in overall defenceman points with 32. Gostisbehere can reach 18 goals, 46 assists, and 64 points all of which would be new career highs.
While the new format allows the higher skilled players to showcase their skills with more open ice, it reduces the opportunities for players to get into the game with the reduced roster. In the old system teams, both the East and the West teams had to suit up an entire game roster to play the game.
With the format changed to four teams the number of players picked to a team has gone down from 20 skaters and three goalies to nine skaters, and two goalies. The reduction of two players per line and the entire fourth line from the teams has limited players that deserve to be in the game from getting selected. Add the fact that now the captains and not the starters are selected in a fan vote more player spots are lost.
I for one do not care for the amateur league formats put in place by the NHL in recent years to cater to nonhockey fans. The Shootout is a disaster and makes the NHL the only major professional league to use a form of skills competition to decide games that actually matter in the standings. The All-Star game is another example of the NHL tinkering with a format that was to put players’ skills on display in an actual game situation and turning it into a second skills competition.
One of the biggest All-Star mistakes was to include Kris Letang of the Penguins to the Metropolitan team. The move seems to be just the NHL catering to the Penguins once again. Morgan Reilly would be a much better choice to be named to the team. Reilly is on pace to for eight goals, 52 assists and 60 points for the season. Reilly can tie his career best in goals and totally crush his career highs in assists (27) and points (36) this season. In my opinion, this is the biggest travesty with the new All-Star Format.