The NHL announced who the six All-Star Game starters would be for the mid-season exhibition in Ottawa, and shock of all shocks, the fans in Canada’s capital successfully stuffed the ballot box.
Of the six starters, four of them play for the host team. Forwards Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek, and defenseman Erik Karlsson all made the cut through voting as did Toronto defenseman Dion Phaneuf and Boston goalie Tim Thomas.
What, no Alexandre Daigle?
Karlsson wound up landing the most votes with 939,951 votes beating out Alfredsson for the highest tally. Karlsson has had a breakout offensive season for the Senators this year proving to be one of the better playmakers on the team.
Michalek made the team thanks to a late push in votes that saw him overtake Toronto’s Phil Kessel. Thomas had to beat out Leafs goalie, and write-in candidate, James Reimer for the start. If nothing else, the Ottawa-Toronto rivalry was alive and well thanks to the voting and Michalek making the cut over Kessel has some Leafs fans steamed.
Being named a starter to the All-Star Game means that half of the 12 players that will kick off the game are guaranteed spots on the team, barring injury. The NHL will name the rest of the 36 all-stars later this month ahead of the festivities in Ottawa during the final weekend of January. Chances are if your guy didn’t make the cut as a starter, he’ll wind up on the team then.
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”
Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).
Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.
Read more about his rise here.
In his fifth NHL game, intriguing Washington Capitals prospect Jakub Vrana scored his first NHL goal (and point).
Let’s be honest, though; Evgeny Kuznetsov deserves plenty of the credit, as he sent a fantastic pass for Vrana’s tap-in tally.
See it for yourself:
Even if that was mostly Kuznetsov, Vrana has been getting his chances so far.
He generated four shots on goal in two separate occasions so far in his four games of NHL action, so maybe he was due for a chance like this.
Considering he’s just 20 years old, the Capitals could get used to Kuznetsov to Vrana.
Update: The Capitals won 4-1, and Vrana’s first goal wasn’t the only noteworthy “first.” After piling on shots, John Carlson finally scored his first goal of the season:
No one’s going to confuse Dmitry Kulikov with Jack Eichel, but the Buffalo Sabres are likely happy to have him back after a long absence, too.
The Sabres have been on an upward trend lately (5-2-2 in their last nine games), and now they get a key defenseman back against the Washington Capitals on Friday night.
Kulikov last played on Nov. 9 and hasn’t recorded a point in 12 games, making for a tough start to his stint with the Sabres. Maybe he’ll begin to get a little more traction with his new team tonight?
He’s far from the only returning Buffalo player, either, as Josh Gorges and Nicolas Deslauriers are also back in the mix. Kulikov is slated to be on the Sabres’ second pairing with Cody Franson.
Buffalo sent Brendan Guhle to the AHL to make room for these tweaks.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will be without captain Nick Foligno because of an illness on Friday, opening up an opportunity for interesting prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand.
The team tweeted out his linemates as Matt Calvert and Lukas Sedlak as a solid fourth line facing the Detroit Red Wings.
He failed to generate much (zero points, two shots on goal) in three games so far with Columbus this season, receiving about 25 minutes of ice time over that span.
With eight goals and 12 points in 19 AHL games so far in 2016-17, there’s the thought that he could eventually make the next step to becoming a decent contributor for the Blue Jackets.
Perhaps this will constitute his first real step in that direction?
Apparently this is a pretty abrupt situation for the 21-year-old: