Buffalo Sabres

Cannonball Run…and gun: Team Toews wins highest-scoring game in ASG history

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COLUMBUS — There were goals.

Oh, how there were goals.

Twenty-nine of them, to be exact — the highest-scoring affair in NHL All-Star Game history, which ended with Team Toews beating Team Foligno 17-12 on Sunday night at Nationwide Arena.

The home of the Blue Jackets, perhaps best known for its thunderous goal cannon that goes off every time a puck finds the back of the net, was firing constantly throughout the evening — though only on goals from Team Foligno, much to the relief of eardrums across the arena.

The game was, as the score suggests, light on defense and intensity, but featured an absolute boatload of goals. The 29 eclipsed the mark set at the 2001 All-Star Game in Denver when North America beat the World 14-12 on the strength of Bill Guerin’s hat trick.

Fourteen years later, it was a four-goal effort that led the way. Islanders captain John Tavares potted a quartet of markers for Team Toews, becoming just one of six players to accomplish the feat in an All-Star Game: Dany Heatley (2003), Mike Gartner (’93), Mario Lemieux (’90), Vincent Damphousse (’91) and Wayne Gretzky (’83) were the others.

On any other day, Tavares’ effort would’ve netted him Most Valuable Player honors, but not on Sunday — that went to hometown favorite Ryan Johansen, who finished with two goals and four points (and clearly benefited from the fan voting process for MVP).

While flat at times, the 60th edition of the league’s All-Star gala proved a nice ending for what was a great weekend for Columbus. The city embraced this event with enthusiasm, which included a jam-packed house — 18,901 in attendance — for Sunday’s finale.

“The fans, the fifth line in Columbus here has been unbelievable,” Johansen said following the game. “Thank you so much. You guys are unbelievable.”

NOTES

Jakub Voracek tied Lemieux’s record for points in an ASG, with six… Panthers rookie d-man Aaron Ekblad acquitted himself nicely after being named to the game as an injury replacement, finishing with four assists… Johansen led Team Foligno in scoring while Patrick Kane, Claude Giroux, Alex Ovechkin and Steve Stamkos each had three points … The only skaters that failed to register a point were Anze Kopitar, Phil Kessel and Zemgus Girgensons, all from Team Foligno… Every Team Toews skater had at least one point.

Here’s an early look at Team Europe

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COLUMBUS — First, they really need to figure out the name.

Officially it’s the straightforward-but-staid “Team Europe,” though we heard plenty of other monikers during Saturday’s announcement of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey: Pan-European, Team Other Europe and The Island of Misfit Boys (courtesy Bleacher Report’s Dave Lozo, which I feel might not stick)

For clarity’s sake, the squad is called Team Europe (for now) and comprised of players outside the traditional Big Four — Sweden, Finland, Russia and Czech Republic — of international hockey. As such, the NHL and NHLPA have hatched a Ryder Cup-style squad of players from Slovakia, Switzerland, Slovenia, Norway, Denmark, France, Belarus, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Austria and another other European country I’ve failed to mention.

Let’s take a look at potential roster choices shall we?

Forwards: Anze Kopitar (Slovenia), Marian Gaborik, Marian Hossa, Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco, Richard Panik, Tomas Kopecky (Slovakia), Thomas Vanek, Michael Raffl, Michael Grabner (Austria), Mikhail Grabovski (Belarus), Mikkel Boedker, Frans Nielsen, Jannik Hansen, Lars Eller (Denmark), Antoine Roussel, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (France), Tobias Rieder, Leon Draisaitl, Marcel Goc (Germany), Zemgus Girgensons (Latvia), Mats Zuccarello (Norway), Nino Niederreiter (Switzerland), Dainius Zubrus (Lithuania).

Defense: Zdeno Chara, Andrej Sekera, Lubomir Visnovsky, Andrej Meszaros (Slovakia), Roman Josi, Mark Streit, Yannick Weber, Luca Sbisa, Mirco Mueller, Raphael Diaz (Switzerland), Christian Ehrhoff, Dennis Seidenberg (Germany).

Goalie: Jaroslav Halak (Slovakia), Frederik Andersen (Denmark), Thomas Greiss (Germany), Jonas Hiller, Reto Berra (Switzerland).

Halak, who’s represented Slovakia internationally on a number of occasions, figures to be in the mix for one of the goaltending spots — and, one would think, the starting job — but has mixed feelings about the Team Europe concept.

“I would say if it was 10 years ago it would be upsetting because 10 years ago we had a lot of guys in the NHL,” he explained during . “Right now, we got maybe 12. So that would be tough to make a team out of 12 guys.

“Obviously you need 20. It will be different to see [the rest of Team Europe] but at the same time I’m open to it. It would be nice to play with some other players from different countries.”

As most assumed when reports of a Team Europe concept first broke, the team will be well-stocked at forward but thin on defense and in goal. On their own, Switzerland and Slovakia probably have the strongest contingents but lack depth certain positions. Other countries simply don’t have enough players period so, from a competition standpoint, the Ryder Cup-style amalgam makes sense.

It just remains to be seen if all the projected players fully embrace the idea.

“I’m sure it’s going to be strange at first, but playing against each other you know pretty much all of the guys anyway, Kopitar said. “I don’t think it’s going to be too hard to come together.”

NHL All-Star Game rosters set after fantasy draft

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The rosters for the 2015 NHL All-Star game have been decided. Drink it all in, hockey fans.

We saw it all tonight, didn’t we?

Phil Kessel wasn’t taken last, selected second overall by Team Toews, and then traded to Team Foligno for Tyler Seguin. Alex Ovechkin so desired a new car and didn’t get one.

Here are the rosters for both All-Star teams.

TEAM FOLIGNO:

Forwards: Nick Foligno, Patrick Kane, Ryan Johansen, Anze Kopitar, Steven Stamkos, Phil Kessel, Claude Giroux, Bobby Ryan, Radim Vrbata, Zemgus Girgensons, Alex Ovechkin, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Defensemen: Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith, Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Burns, Kevin Shattenkirk, Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

Goalies: Carey Price, Marc-Andre Fleury, Brian Elliott.

TEAM TOEWS:

Forwards: Jonathan Toews, Ryan Getzlaf, Rick Nash, Tyler Seguin, Jakub Voracek, John Tavares, Vladimir Tarasenko, Patrice Bergeron, Patrik Elias, Tyler Johnson, Filip Forsberg.

Defensemen: Shea Weber, Brent Seabrook, Aaron Ekblad, Ryan Suter, Mark Giordano, Justin Faulk.

Goalies: Corey Crawford, Roberto Luongo, Jaroslav Halak.

Keep the Kia: Denial, acceptance and going last in the fantasy draft

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The beauty of the 2015 NHL All-Star Game’s fantasy draft is recreating that feeling of picking teams in a way that evokes playground nostalgia. Of course, there’s one subversive twist … a single player experiences something they likely didn’t encounter often as kids: getting picked last.

With media availability kicking in on Friday, some players shared their thoughts on possibly following Phil Kessel as an All-Star who was tabbed last. The range of emotions seemed quite varied.

For Ottawa Senators forward Bobby Ryan, the consolation prize of a new car won’t be enough incentive to go last overall, as he told the Ottawa Citizen.

“I really don’t want a Kia,” Ryan says. “Although if it happened, I’m not going to be upset about it. Mom will have a nice ride.”

Ryan noted that he already dropped former Anaheim Ducks teammate Ryan Getzlaf to try to convince him that he would be a “mid-round steal.”

While Ryan represents the denial phase, New Jersey Devils veteran Patrik Elias seems to cover the acceptance spectrum, as the Bergen Record reports.

“It is what it is,” Elias said. “It’s good for the fans. It’s fine. The draft is the draft. I don’t care where I’m picked. I’m just happy to be there.”

While Elias takes the veteran approach, Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson is almost like the new kid at school.

One imagines Kessel’s reaction would simply be, “Oh no, not again,” even if he seems to say otherwise.

Related

Odds are on Zemgus Girgensons, Radim Vrbata going last

PHT’s take

Girgensons, Vrbata favored to go last at fantasy draft, says oddsmaker

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For the record, Friday is Media Day for the 2015 All-Star weekend, not Pick on Zemgus Girgensons Day.

Brovada released some 2015 All-Star odds today, covering obvious questions such as who will be selected first and last during the fantasy draft (as well as more esoteric ones, like Jaroslav Halak and Carey Price being on the same team).

Let’s start with who might be selected last:

Who will be picked last in the 2015 NHL All Star Draft 
Any Other Player                       3/1
Zemgus Girgensons (BUF)         4/1
Radim Vrbata (VAN)                  4/1
Patrik Elias (NJ)                        5/1
Bobby Ryan (OTT)                     6/1
Tyler Johnson (TB)                    6/1
Phil Kessel (TOR)                      9/1
Vladimir Tarasenko (STL)           15/1
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (EDM)     15/1
Tyler Seguin (DAL)                    20/1
Patrice Bergeron (BOS)             30/1
Jakub Voracek (PHI)                  30/1
Claude Giroux (PHI)                   50/1
Alex Ovechkin (WAS)                100/1
Steven Stamkos (TB)                 100/1
Ryan Johansen (CLB)                100/1
Anze Kopitar (LA)                      100/1
John Tavares (NYI)                    100/1

(Don’t sleep on the “one of the captains outright trolling a friend and/or teammate,” by the way.)

On the flip side, who might get selected first?

Who will be picked first in the 2015 NHL All Star Draft 
Alex Ovechkin (WAS)                2/1
Steven Stamkos (TB)                 2/1
Ryan Johansen (CLB)                4/1
Duncan Keith (CHI)                    10/1
Corey Crawford (CHI)                 10/1
Shea Weber (NAS)                    12/1
Anze Kopitar (LA)                      30/1
John Tavares (NYI)                    30/1
Phil Kessel (TOR)                      30/1
Brent Seabrook (CHI)                 40/1
Carey Price (MON)                     40/1
Claude Giroux (PHI)                   40/1
Patrice Bergeron (BOS)             40/1
Tyler Seguin (DAL)                    40/1
Any Other Player                       40/1
Zemgus Girgensons (BUF)         50/1
Jakub Voracek (PHI)                  50/1
Vladimir Tarasenko (STL)           50/1
Jaroslav Halak (NYI)                  80/1
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (EDM)     80/1
Ryan Suter (MIN)                       80/1
Tyler Johnson (TB)                    80/1
Bobby Ryan (OTT)                     80/1
Marc-Andre Fleury (PIT)             80/1
Roberto Luongo (FLA)               80/1
Mark Giordano (CAL)                 80/1
Brent Burns (SJ)                        100/1
Dustin Byfuglien (WPG)             100/1
Erik Johnson (COL)                   100/1
Justin Faulk (CAR)                     100/1
Kevin Shattenkirk (STL)              100/1
Patrik Elias (NJ)                        100/1
Radim Vrbata (VAN)                  100/1
Oliver Ekman-Larsson (PHO)      100/1

Despite being one of the better offensive defensemen in the NHL, Oliver Ekman-Larsson said he wouldn’t be shocked if he went last:

As far as who will win, Team Toews is at even odds while Team Foligno’s -140 (5/7). Finally, some of the odder bits:

Will Carey Price (MON) and Jaroslav Halak (NYI) be on the same All Star Team?        
Yes                  EVEN   (1/1)
No                    -140      (5/7)
 
Will Ryan Johansen (CLB) and Nick Foligno (CLB) be on the same All Star Team?     
Yes                  – 200     (1/2)
No                    +150     (3/2)
 
Will Jonathan Toews (CHI), Corey Crawford (CHI), Duncan Keith (CHI) and Brent Seabrook (CHI) and be on the same All Star Team?   
Yes                  +550     (11/2)
No                    -900     (1/9)

Is anyone else a little disappointed that “uncomfortable Phil Kessel facial expressions” wasn’t a category? (Taking over-four.)