Jason Brough

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He’s not going to the All-Star Game, but Pacioretty has been ‘phenomenal’ for Habs

MONTREAL (AP) Max Pacioretty will have to wait at least another year to get his time in the All-Star spotlight.

The Montreal Canadiens’ captain was left off this year’s All-Star roster despite being one of the league’s most consistent scoring threats.

He built a strong case for this month’s event in Los Angeles, right there among the league leaders with 19 goals and he’s been on a roll since the middle of November.

The 28-year-old’s star power still needs a boost, falling well short of his production on the ice.

Only three players have scored more goals (173) than the American winger since 2011: Alex Ovechkin (243), Steven Stamkos (202) and Joe Pavelski (178).

His 129 even-strength goals are bettered only by superstars Ovechkin (139) and Stamkos (139).

“I don’t know about (the media), but we don’t (take him for granted),” Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said recently. “We appreciate what he’s capable (of doing). The last two months he’s been phenomenal with us.”

After a slow start — just two goals in the first 14 games — Pacioretty has been on a roll.

He’s tied with Sidney Crosby and Jeff Carter for the NHL lead in goals since Nov. 12 with 17. He scored four in three games last week, including back-to-back overtime winners, the second one giving him the franchise lead in OT goals.

His 38 winning goals over the past five-plus seasons trail only Ovechkin’s 42.

Therrien raved about his play, pointing to his “passion” in particular, and positive influence on the dressing room of the first-place Canadiens.

“He wants to make a difference every game,” Therrien said of Pacioretty, on pace to hit 38 goals and establish a career best with 68 points. “And he’s doing a hell of a job for us.”

Teammate Mark Barberio thought Pacioretty’s consistency as a scorer – in an era when goals continue to trend downward and goalies get bigger and better – was underrated.

In fact, Pacioretty has been one of the league’s most consistent scoring threats, one of only four players to hit 30 goals in each of the previous four full seasons – the others being Ovechkin, Pavelski and the Ducks’ Corey Perry.

Yet, he’s rarely in the conversation of the league’s top players.

He has probably been overshadowed by star teammates Carey Price, P.K. Subban, Shea Weber and Alex Radulov. He’s also never been the best or even second-best player on his team and his game lacks the sizzle of Ovechkin or Stamkos.

While he may not be flashy, Pacioretty is plenty effective.

Formerly of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Barberio joined the Habs last year and was struck by the quickness of his new teammate’s release, describing his shot as “world-class”.

“He’s deceptive,” Barberio said. “And when he brings it to the net he brings it with a lot of force and I think that’s what surprises goalies the most.”

“Not everybody has a shot like that,” he added. “There’s (only) a few guys in the league that can just beat a goalie clean one-on-one and he’s definitely one of them. We’re lucky to have him.”

Pacioretty’s wrist shot, in particular, has been the NHL’s most potent over the past six seasons. He tops all players with 111 goals on his wrist shot in that span, trailing only the Blues’ Vladimir Tarasenko and Jets’ Mark Scheifele with 12 this season.

Pacioretty doesn’t just score either. Underlying stats that suggest he’s one of the more effective penalty-killing forwards in the NHL, albeit in a secondary role. He’s also one of Montreal’s top puck possession players (53.8 percent), a long 6-foot-2, 215-pound winger who’s spent the season with a variety of linemates because of injuries for the Habs.

Only one Atlantic Division forward, Toronto’s Auston Matthews, has more goals than Pacioretty so far and, heading into Tuesday’s games, only three had more than his 34 points (Nikita Kucherov, Brad Marchand and Matthews).

But it was not enough to earn him a first-time All-Star nod with Price and Weber both garnering spots for Montreal.

“Maybe he flies under the radar but not in this room,” Barberio said. “We know what he brings.”

Coach Q wants Seabrook to ‘get back’ to what he does best

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Brent Seabrook‘s ice time is down, and Joel Quenneville explained why this morning.

“I thought he had a great start to the season, defended well, [got] involved in the offense and shot off the point,” the Blackhawks’ head coach said, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “Defensively, when he’s playing his best, he’s killing plays, going to people quickly, and [making] quick outlet passes. … We’d like to see him get back to that.”

On the season, Seabrook has two goals and 19 assists with an average ice time of 22:07.

But in Sunday’s 5-2 win over Nashville, the 31-year-old logged just 18:08. And two days prior, it was a mere 15:52 against Carolina, when he didn’t see the ice for the final six minutes in a 2-1 victory that required Scott Darling to make 39 saves.

Perhaps the last few games are just a blip, something every player goes through from time to time. Seabrook has earned the benefit of the doubt that he can get back to where his coach wants him to be.

But if it’s more than a blip, then it’s a problem for the Blackhawks, who have him under contract through 2023-24 for a cap hit of almost $7 million.

He’s not getting any younger.

Including the playoffs, Seabrook has already played 1,004 games in the NHL. Among active defensemen in the league, only seven have played more regular-season games than his 885.

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As you can see, one spot below Seabrook is teammate Duncan Keith, with 876 games played. A couple of spots above is teammate Michal Rozsival, with 953. And a few spots higher is teammate Brian Campbell, with 1,043.

Related: Blackhawks banking on improvement from rookies

Desperate Wings will get Green and Abdelkader back tonight

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Mike Green says he’s playing tonight in Chicago. It will be his first appearance for the Red Wings since Dec. 17, when he was injured in a game against Anaheim.

Detroit went 3-4-1 without Green, who has seven goals and 11 assists in 32 games this season. The Wings’ much-maligned power play really struggled without the offensive defenseman, going just 1-for-26.

Justin Abdelkader is also set to return for the Wings tonight. He’s been out even longer than Green, since Dec. 1 with an MCL sprain. The 29-year-old winger has four goals and four assists in 22 games.

Suffice to say, Detroit really needs to put some wins together if it has any chance of making the playoffs for a 26th straight time. The Wings enter tonight’s action seven points back of third place in the Atlantic Division and nine points back of the second wild-card spot in the East.

Darren Helm, Niklas Kronwall, Brendan Smith, and Jimmy Howard remain on injured reserve.

Detroit’s woeful power play (30th, 11.2%)

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Forsberg to make first start of the season for Blue Jackets

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Tonight in Carolina, Anton Forsberg will make his first start of the season for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Forsberg was recalled from the AHL yesterday after the Jackets waived veteran backup Curtis McElhinney, who today was claimed by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

With the Jackets’ regular starter, Sergei Bobrosvky, under the weather, Forsberg will be backed up tonight by Joonas Korpisalo.

Forsberg, 24, is 12-6-1 with an impressive .930 save percentage this season in Cleveland. However, he’s struggled in nine career NHL appearances, going 1-7-0 with an .882 save percentage.

The Jackets’ next game after tonight’s is Friday in Tampa Bay. Columbus (28-7-4) is coming off a 2-1 OT victory over the Flyers on Sunday.

Leafs claim McElhinney off waivers

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The Toronto Maple Leafs have claimed goalie Curtis McElhinney off waivers from Columbus.

McElhinney, 33, went 2-1-2 with a .924 save percentage before he was waived yesterday by the Blue Jackets. His career save percentage in the NHL is just .905.

There’s little risk for Toronto in claiming McElhinney, a pending unrestricted free agent with a cap hit of just $800,000. For now, the move will allow 22-year-old Antoine Bibeau to remain in the AHL and keep developing.

The Leafs needed a backup for Frederik Andersen after Jhonas Enroth did not pan out.