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McDavid, Crosby, Price and Kane lead All-Star voting through first week

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Voting for the 2017 NHL All-Star game has been underway for more than a week now, and on Tuesday afternoon the league announced the early leaders from each division.

The game, which will take place in Los Angeles on Jan. 26, will feature the same format as last year’s game with the four divisions taking part in a 3-on-3 tournament.

Connor McDavid, the NHL’s leading scorer, is the top vote-getter in the Pacific Division, while Sidney Crosby, currently the NHL’s leading goal scorer, is leading the Metropolitan Division.

Montreal’s Carey Price and Chicago’s Patrick Kane, the past two MVP winners, are leading the Atlantic and Central divisions respectively.

Unlike last season when John Scott dominated the voting, there are no surprise players in the early results. The league put new voting guidelines in place this season and limited voting only to players that are on an active NHL roster.

Here are is an early look at the top-five vote getters from each division.

Montreal (Price and Shea Weber), Pittsburgh (Crosby and Phil Kessel), and San Jose (Brent Burns and Joe Thornton) are the three teams that currently have two players in the top five of their division.

Atlantic
1. Carey Price, Montreal
2. Jaromir Jagr, Florida
3. Shea Weber, Montreal
4. Jack Eichel, Buffalo
5. Patrice Bergeron, Boston

Central
1. Patrick Kane, Chicago
2. P.K. Subban, Nashville
3. Jonathan Toews, Chicago
4. Patrik Laine, Winnipeg
5. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis

Metropolitan
1. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh
2. Alex Ovechkin, Washington
3. Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh
4. John Tavares, NY Islanders
5. Taylor Hall, New Jersey

Pacific
1. Connor McDavid, Edmonton
2. Brent Burns, San Jose
3. Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary
4. Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles
5. Joe Thornton, San Jose

Crosby keeps scoring, Stars keep losing

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It’s hard to fathom the Dallas Stars’ minus-22 goal differential, but if you need an explanation, look to nights like these.

The advantage should have been on Dallas’ side. The Penguins were closing off a back-to-back set and likely expended quite a bit of energy trying to come back against the Islanders last night.

Instead, the Penguins were the team that pulled away, dropping three third-period goals on the Stars for a lopsided 6-2 decision. As much as people look for the good in this for the Stars, it’s not the greatest sign when you see quotes like these:

“I haven’t had much fun the past few weeks, losing so much and giving up a lot of goals,” Marc-Andre Fleury said, according to Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “That was a fun game to play.”

Look, this is a “child’s game” these guys are playing … but yeah, it’s usually not a great sign when the opposing team is talking about how much they enjoyed facing you. Sidney Crosby‘s happy to face just about anyone these days, scoring his 16th goal in just 18 games:

That goal almost feels a little symbolic, doesn’t it?

The Stars are now under what you might call .500 (9-10-6), with three straight losses and just two wins in their last seven games. The scary part is that things have often been even uglier than that disappointing record.

Pittsburgh and Crosby are just the types to shine a light on those issues, too.

McDavid, Kucherov and Crosby only players on pace for 90 points so far

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Let’s check in on the NHL scoring race and see where things are headed a quarter of the way through the 2016-17 season.

At this point, the Art Ross Trophy still seems to be Connor McDavid‘s to lose as long as he stays in the lineup.

Thanks to his 10th goal of the season on Friday night in the Edmonton Oilers’ shootout loss to Arizona, McDavid maintained his lead in the NHL scoring race and now sits with 28 points through the first 22 games of the season.

That puts him on a pace for 104 points on the season.

If he maintains that current pace he would be just the fourth player since the start of the 2011-12 to reach the century mark, and only the sixth player to top 90 points.

Entering play on Tuesday, McDavid and Kucherov are the only players in the league that are currently on a pace to top 100 points, while Sidney Crosby is the only other player on a pace to top 90 points.

As scoring continues to be down across the league it is going to be yet another year where 90 and 100 point scorers are almost impossible to find.

Below are the players on pace for the 10 highest point totals this season given their current scoring rates. We are taking games missed into account here, so a player that has 12 points in 10 games or something similar isn’t going to be included if they can only play in 60-70 games. They just won’t be able to play in enough games to reach it.

  1. Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers — 28 points in 22 games. On pace for 104 points
  2. Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning — 26 points in 21 games. On pace for 100 points
  3. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins — 19 points in 15 games. On pace for 96 points
  4. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues — 22 points in 21 games. On pace for 86 points
  5. Alex Galchenyuk, Montreal Canadiens — 21 points in 21 games. On pace for 82 points
  6. Cam Atkinson, Columbus Blue Jackets — 19 points in 19 games. On pace for 82 points
  7. Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguins — 21 points in 21 games. On pace for 82 points
  8. Nick Foligno, Columbus Blue Jackets — 19 points in 19 games. On pace for 82 points
  9. Alex Wennberg, Columbus Blue Jackets — 19 points in 19 games. On pace for 82 points
  10. Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars — 22 points in 22 games. On pace for 82 points

Once you get beyond Seguin, the only other players in the league on pace for more than 80 points at this moment are Chicago’s Patrick Kane and Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele. The next player in line after Scheifele is defenseman Brent Burns who is currently on a pace for 77 points.

Steven Stamkos would have been near the top of this list but with him sidelined for the next four months that eliminates him from the scoring race. With 20 points in 17 games he would have been on a 95-point pace over 82 games.

Crosby enters play on Saturday in 13th place in terms of total points, but that is only because he missed the start of the season due to a concussion. He is quickly climbing the leaderboard and given his current pace is probably going to be in the top-five sooner rather than later.

Eleven of the 12 players ahead of him have currently played in at least six more games than him.

At this same point last season there were three players on pace for 100 points (Kane, Seguin and Jamie Benn), while only one of them (Kane) was able to maintain that pace. It’s entirely possible (and given recent history, very likely) that at least one  of McDavid, Kucherov or Crosby is going to see their current pace slow down and struggle to reach the 90-point mark. It wouldn’t be a shock if that happened to all of them.

Again, it’s something that has been done just five times since the start of the 2011 season.

Crosby, Penguins made life miserable for Lundqvist, Rangers

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Sidney Crosby‘s scuffle with Ryan McDonagh turned out to be a mere appetizer for a matchup of one of the hottest players in the NHL vs. one of the league’s hottest teams.

Rick Nash and the New York Rangers managed a 1-0 lead that became a faint memory thanks to a five-goal second period by Crosby and the Penguins, who ultimately won 6-1 on Wednesday.

It was quite the response to the tension built by that Crosby – McDonagh scuffle and that hit on Conor Sheary. It was also the Penguins’ way of replying to the Rangers’ 5-2 victory against the Penguins from Monday.

Crosby’s remarkable work continues with two goals and one assist, all in that dominant middle frame. Astoundingly, No. 87 has 14 goals in as many games (and 19 points overall).

Sheary got a measure of revenge in his own right with a goal while plenty of other Penguins enjoyed nice games, from Phil Kessel (goal, assist) to Nick Bonino (two assists).

Considering Pittsburgh’s 38-17 shots on goal edge, it’s foolish to put this all on Henrik Lundqvist, who made it about halfway through the game before getting the hook for Antti Raanta.

At least this didn’t happen again, though:

However you feel about this scuffle, it’s clear that Crosby and Penguins won this round. Here’s hoping these two teams continue this brewing rivalry with another playoff matchup, eh?

Yes, really: Crosby goes after McDonagh for boarding Sheary

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Technically, Sidney Crosby only received a roughing minor for “reacting” to Ryan McDonagh‘s hit on Conor Sheary.

Still, that’s a matter of semantics and an official’s judgment, as he clearly threw some punches after McDonagh’s questionable check, which drew a five-minute major penalty for boarding.

You can see the entire incident in the video above this post’s headline.

Later on in the game, Crosby scored his NHL-leading 13th goal in just his 14th game of the season, so apparently that scuffle didn’t hurt his hands too much:

The Penguins presented an interesting tweet on the matter: