NHL Rink Wrap: Crosby hat trick; Hurricanes school Rangers

NHL Rink Wrap: Crosby hat trick; Hurricanes school Rangers
Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images
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Top players from Friday in the NHL

Sidney Crosby, Penguins

Most engaged hockey fans realize that, while Sidney Crosby isn’t at the very top of Hart Trophy conversations* as much these days, he’s still an elite player. The deeper you dig into his game, the clearer it is that Crosby has evolved into an all-around dynamo.

Nonetheless, Crosby isn’t necessarily scoring as explosively as he once did — at least not that often. During the NHL action on Friday, Sidney Crosby reminded us that he can still light up the occasional scoreboard.

Crosby swipes NHL player of the night for Thursday with a hat trick plus an assist.

This marks the 15th hat trick of Sidney Crosby’s career. Of those hat tricks, 12 happened during regular season games, and three in the playoffs. (One of those three happened to be a Crosby – Alex Ovechkin hat trick duel. Can we order another of those, please? Is there an app for that?)

With that hat trick + assist, Crosby improved to 31 points (10G, 21A) in 28 games this season.

* – That doesn’t mean Crosby is totally absent from Hart Trophy conversations, mind you.

NHL highlights from Friday

Hey, speaking of that Sidney Crosby hat trick:

Two fights for the price of one (click). Now that’s value.

When you’re listing the most underrated players in the NHL, don’t forget Stars center Roope Hintz. He won’t slip under the radar forever if he keeps scoring OT game-winners, though:

Read more about the Hurricanes beating the Rangers below, or use this goal as a testament to what happened:

Not just a great goal by Dylan Larkin, but also one that can help you delude yourself into thinking your hockey video game successes count as “realistic.”

Friday NHL Takeaways

Hall of Famer Clark Gillies dies at age 67

Sad news on Friday: Hockey Hall of Famer Clark Gillies died at age 67. Best known for his time with the Islanders (four Stanley Cup wins, 12 seasons), Gillies also played two seasons for the Sabres. Read more about Clark Gillies here.

AHL suspends Hrabik 30 games for racist gesture toward Imama

The AHL suspended San Jose Barracuda forward Krystof Hrabik 30 games for making a racist gesture toward Boko Imama of the Tucson Roadrunners.

Disgustingly, this is the second time Boko Imama has been the target of a racist gesture during AHL play in the last three years. In Jan. 2020, the AHL suspended Brandon Manning five games for directing a racial slur at Imama, who was then playing for the Ontario Reign. When the two players met in a game weeks later, the two fought.

Later on Friday, Imama expressed his frustration with the racism he’s faced during his hockey career.

Hurricanes teach the Rangers a bit of a lesson?

When discussing Rangers – Hurricanes as the big NHL story for Friday, the question was: can the Rangers prove that they belong with a team like the Canes?

One loss or win wouldn’t definitively answer that question. But after a dominant Hurricanes win, it feels more reasonable to pose the question. Simply put, New York might not be “there” yet. That’s not necessarily something to be ashamed of, though, because it simply wouldn’t be that outrageous if the Hurricanes ended up raising the Stanley Cup this season.

Don’t think there was a bit of a feeling of “learning a lesson?” Mika Zibanejad used that verbiage after a decisive defeat.

(Stats tell the story, too, including the Hurricanes generating a 23-9 advantage in even-strength high-danger chances against the Rangers.)

Your mileage will probably vary on one of the subplots of the Hurricanes beating the Rangers. Tony DeAngelo performed well against his former team, matching Sebastian Aho by scoring a goal and two assists.

It seems silly to slam the Rangers for parting ways with DeAngelo, but it’s also silly to deny that he’s had a strong season with Carolina.

Ducks end losing streak by beating Lightning

Amid a four-game losing streak and 2-7-1 stretch, the Ducks’ playoff hopes were waddling in the wrong direction. Beating (and hanging with) the repeat Stanley Cup champion Lightning might just be the tonic to improve the Ducks’ confidence.

While the high-danger chances weren’t always there at even-strength early on, the Ducks brought a lot of effort to the table vs. the Lightning. In the first period, the Ducks generated 18 shots vs. seven for the Lightning as Anaheim went up 2-0.

By the early point of the third, it was 4-0 Ducks. That said, the Lightning started to really cook on offense, but John Gibson looked a lot like the John Gibson many of us missed during two relative down years. Gibson came into the NHL action on Friday with a .918 save percentage that might be even better than it looks. He was dynamite in limiting the damage of the Bolts’ late surges.

With the Ducks ending their skid, the Lightning’s winning streak ended at four games, as did a 10-game point streak.

Saturday’s big story

Flames get a chance to spoil things even more for the Oilers

Over and over again, the addled Oilers keep getting asked, “is this rock bottom?” If squandering a lead against the befuddled Senators wasn’t enough, then you have the Oilers playing well yet getting thumped 6-0 to the Panthers.

And yet …

If you really want to rub salt in the Oilers’ wounds, wouldn’t you do it by sprinkling in the agony of a brutal loss to the Flames?

Sure, it would ruin my joke about Owen Tippett scoring the last goal of the Dave Tippett era in Edmonton, but losing to your local rival can often be the final straw. With the Flames enduring struggles of their own (3-6-1 in their last 10 games), they have even more incentive to beat the Oilers.

Could also be quite the way for Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to shake off very unusual scoring slumps.

NHL scores from Friday

Hurricanes 6, Rangers 3
Penguins 5, Blue Jackets 2
Stars 5, Red Wings 4 (OT)
Islanders 4, Coyotes 0
Wild 5, Blackhawks 1
Panthers 2, Canucks 1 (SO)
Ducks 5, Lightning 1
Blues 5, Kraken 0

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

NHL Rink Wrap: Big (but clean?) Tom Wilson hit; Oilers streak continues

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Top players from Thursday in the NHL

Jason Robertson and Tyler Seguin, Stars

Overall, it’s not ideal that the Stars narrowly beat the Sabres, and needed four power-play goals to do it. But there’s something to be said for exerting your will to win a game, and that can be seen most immediately in 47 shots on goal for the Stars.

Robertson and Seguin collected 5 SOG apiece on their way to two-goal, one-assist performances. If this is one of John Klingberg‘s last games with the Stars, at least he factored into the win, generating three assists.

Even with this three-goal outburst, Seguin’s season totals are disappointing. He’s just shy of a point every other game with 18 in 36 contests. If nothing else, Seguin may be heating up, as he’s stacked up two straight multi-point games (3G, 2A).

Darcy Kuemper, Avalanche

The Avs topped the Kings 4-1 to spoil Quinton Byfield‘s season debut. The biggest roadblock in LA’s way was Kuemper, who stopped 40 of 41 shots faced in the win. It was a good rebound for the Colorado netminder after leaving Monday’s game following a collision with Jordan Greenway.

Sergei Bobrovsky, Panthers

No doubt, plenty will be made about the Oilers seeing their losing streak reach seven games. It’s also their seventh loss in eight home games.

But the story could’ve been very different if Sergei Bobrovsky wasn’t on fire. Instead, “Bob” stopped all 40 shots on goal to make life more miserable for the Oilers.

More on that in the NHL Takeaways section of the Thursday Rink Wrap …

NHL highlights from Thursday

Nice tribute from the Flyers for Jakub Voracek:

Likewise, a nice video for Matt Murray for the Penguins, who call him an “all-time great human.”

Scroll for more on the nastiness of Capitals – Bruins, including another big Tom Wilson hit. Beyond the nastiness, the teams also displayed great skill, including a nice goal by Evgeny Kuznetsov, and a late game-winner by Charlie McAvoy:

Watching the Sabres can’t be easy these days, except when Rasmus Dahlin does something remarkable.

Kudos to Stars sophomore Jason Robertson for scoring a baseball-themed goal during Rangers night.

Few modern NHL players are as strong on the backhand as Sidney Crosby, something he put on display on Thursday:

Shea Theodore netted the overtime winner for the Golden Knights and did it after some offensive zone domination:

Thursday NHL Takeaways

Hot start isn’t enough for Oilers, who see losing streak hit seven games

If you go by the first period alone, the Oilers deserved better against a formidable Florida Panthers team.

During that opening frame, the Oilers were humming, hammering 17 shots on goal (compared to seven for the Panthers). That volume generally continued, but Sergei Bobrovsky kept coming up big.

The air really went out of the Oilers’ sails on Aleksander Barkov‘s second goal of the night, a shorthanded tally.

From there, a reasonably close game devolved into a 6-0 stomping. The last player to score a Florida Panthers goal against David Tippett and the Oilers? Cruelly, it was Owen Tippett. (No relation.)

With that, the Oilers saw their losing streak grow to an unnerving seven games. It’s foolish to panic over cold streaks, but what if those cold streaks put the same old problems on display?

Tom Wilson delivers another big hit, but Bruins take issue with a different Capitals hit

Tom Wilson is no stranger to getting booed by opposing fans. That certainly happened on Thursday, as Bruins fans showered him with profane chants after a hard hit on Anton Blidh.

Blidh left that rough Bruins – Capitals game with an injury. Yet, while some took issue with the latest Tom Wilson hit, plenty of others called it clean. You be the judge:

Instead, the bigger issue was a Garnet Hathaway check that injured Brad Marchand. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy believed it was “cheap.” Again, judge for yourself:

Despite those controversial hits (and some painful injury losses), the Bruins gutted out a 4-3 win over the Capitals. While the Bruins haven’t really improved their playoff seeding, they’ve still been hot lately, winning eight of their last 10 games.

Flyers ‘accomplish’ rare feat of two 10-game losing streaks already this season

So far, the Flyers have played 40 games in this lost season. Somehow, the Flyers already suffered two different 10-game losing streaks. The AP’s Dan Gelston notes that the 2010-11 Colorado Avalanche are the last NHL team to suffer two losing streaks of at least 10 games in a single season.

(Considering those 10-game losing streaks, you’d almost expect the Flyers to sport an even uglier record than 13-19-8. Not that it’s much solace.)

In case you’re wondering, the Flyers’ franchise record for longest losing streak is 12 games.

Hey, at least the Flyers still have their first-round pick, though. (Not their second-rounder, however. They gave that up to trade away Shayne Gostisbehere.)

At this point, the Flyers are aiming to avoid making more dismal history, while fans may be focusing on the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline and the 2022 NHL Draft. You have to wonder if Flyers management will be around to make calls in free agency and the draft after this wasted (and wastefully expensive) season.

Friday’s big story

Rangers – Hurricanes in a clash of contenders; Metro Division title implications?

Heading into the NHL action on Friday, the Rangers boast the most standings points (56 points in 40 games played) while the Hurricanes could easily close that gap (54 points, but with four games in hand [36 GP]).

In the most direct terms, the Rangers and Hurricanes get to influence the battle for the Metropolitan Division title.

But this could be an especially nice opportunity for the Rangers to make a statement. Despite being fairly close in the standings, the Hurricanes carry a bit more longer-term credibility than the Rangers. You can delve deeper into fancy stats, or merely note that the Hurricanes loom large with an impressive +45 goal differential, more than double the also-good Rangers’ differential (+20).

Beating the Hurricanes in Carolina wouldn’t dissolve all doubt about the Rangers. It would rank as one of their better wins, though. (Of course, that’s easier said than done.)

NHL scores from Thursday

Bruins 4, Capitals 3
Stars 5, Sabres 4
Blue Jackets 2, Flyers 1
Penguins 6, Senators 4
Predators 5, Jets 2
Panthers 6, Oilers 0
Avalanche 4, Kings 1
Golden Knights 4, Canadiens 3 (OT)
Kraken 3, Sharks 2

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Beijing Olympics will showcase hockey’s next generation

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The disappointment of the NHL not participating in the 2022 Winter Olympics quickly turned to excitement for a handful of U.S. players at the world junior championship.

Matty Beniers, Jake Sanderson and Brock Faber were together in Red Deer, Alberta, when USA Hockey’s John Vanbiesbrouck asked them to go to Beijing.

“I was kind of blown out of my shoes,” Beniers said.

All three said yes. While Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews and Nathan MacKinnon will not get the chance to play in their first Olympics, the men’s hockey tournament in Beijing could be a showcase for the next generation of talent, with 2021 top pick Owen Power expected to suit up for Canada and Beniers, Sanderson and Faber among eight U.S. players under the age of 21.

“NHL players won’t be there, but it’s still going to be some pretty good hockey and it’ll be really fun,” Sanderson said. “There’s going to be really good talent there. To play with Matty and Brock Faber (and goalie) Drew Commesso, I’m super excited.”

The precedent is there for the youngest players to be among the best at the Olympics.

When the NHL decided not to send players to Pyeongchang in 2018, it gave Russian sniper Kirill Kaprizov, Finnish defenseman Miro Heiskanen and winger Eeli Tolvanen, and American forwards Troy Terry, Ryan Donato and Jordan Greenway opportunities to stand out. Kaprizov and Tolvanen were the second- and third-leading scorers in that tournament, while Donato led the U.S. in goals and Terry in assists.

[MORE: USA Hockey unveils 2022 men’s Olympic roster]

While Russia, Finland and other European teams are going with mostly older rosters from professional leagues, the U.S. figured the kids are all right: 15 of the 25 players named to the team are currently in college, including 13 who have already been drafted by an NHL team.

Vanbiesbrouck said the young players will have an immediate impact on the team. Columbus Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson, who broadcasted five Olympics, figures the next step is the NHL.

“You never know: They could be here next year or the following year,” Davidson said. “This is a stage for them.”

It’s also something of a do-over after the world juniors were canceled midstream because of virus concerns. That tournament was shut down roughly a week after the NHL withdrew from Beijing, so the opportunity snatched away became more motivation for Beniers, Sanderson, Faber and Commesso to commit to the Olympics.

“One door closes and another opens,” said Beniers, who is expected to be the youngest player in the tournament. “Something that not many people get the chance to participate in.”

Participating in 2018 did wonders for the likes of Terry, Greenway and Kaprizov. Terry leads the Anaheim Ducks in goals and points this season, while Kaprizov is teammates with Greenway on the Wild and is tops on Minnesota in scoring.

While McDavid, MacKinnon and Matthews point to Sidney Crosby’s golden goal at the 2010 Vancouver Games as the most memorable Olympic moment from childhood, many of the young U.S. players this time look more at T.J. Oshie’s shootout in Sochi as the iconic highlight. For 20-year-old Brendan Brisson, the performances of Terry, Greenway and Donato in Pyeongchang stick out in large part because they helped U.S. management learn to trust college players.

“I loved watching last time, the U.S., seeing those college guys have success,” Brisson said. “They led in goals and assists and played a really big role on their team, so it’s just something that we have to work towards and maybe we can be like that in Beijing.”

It’s possible because coach David Quinn is certainly not going to bury young players at the end of the bench or scratch them from important games. Beniers, Brisson and Sanderson could be among the U.S leaders in ice time at the Olympics before going back to college and soon on to pro careers.

“The great part about it is these guys are skilled players with a hardness to their game that are committed to playing in all three zones,” Quinn said. “And that’s why they were drafted where they were. That’s why they’re going to be big parts of the team we have, and that’s why they’ve got great futures in the NHL.”

Olympic men’s tournament groups

Group A: Canada, U.S., Germany, China
Group B: ROC, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Denmark
Group C: Finland, Sweden, Slovakia, Latvia

U.S. men’s Olympic schedule

Thurs. Feb. 10: China – 8:10 a.m. ET
Fri. Feb. 11: Canada – 11:10 p.m. ET
Sun. Feb. 13: Germany – 8:10 a.m. ET

Men’s and women’s schedules can be found here
2022 women’s Olympic roster
Day-by-day guide to the 2022 Winter Olympics
How to watch the 2022 Winter Olympics

NBCUniversal will present a Winter Olympics-record 2,800+ hours of coverage across NBC, Peacock, USA Network, CNBC, NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app when the XXIV Olympic Winter Games from Beijing, China, begin this February.

NHL Rink Wrap: Fleury records 70th shutout; Ovechkin scores No. 755

nhl scores fleury
Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images
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Top players in the NHL on Saturday

Marc-Andre Fleury, Blackhawks

Fleury won his fourth straight start as the Blackhawks topped the Ducks 3-0. He stopped all 37 shots Anaheim fired his way for his third shutout of the season and 70th of his career. He’s now one behind Lorne Chabot and Harry Lumley for ninth all-time in NHL history.

Philip Danault, Kings

Both of Danault’s goals helped LA take two-goal leads over the Kraken during their 3-1 victory. His first came early in the second period for a 2-0 Kings lead. His second, an empty netter, put the game out of reach to lead LA to its fourth straight win and sixth win in seven games. The Kraken, meanwhile, have dropped 12 of their last 13.

Highlights from around the NHL on Saturday

Taylor with an extra effort to help the Boston Bruins beat the Nashville Predators in overtime. Also another big game on Saturday for Brad Marchand.

It was NASCAR day during Carolina’s 4-1 win over the Canucks. To celebrate, Seth Jarvis and Steven Lorentz had a race around the rink as the team participating in their post-victory Storm Surge.

Auston Matthews became the third player in NHL history to have a streak of 10 straight road games with a goal. He joins Pavel Bure (11, 1993-94) and Steve Yzerman (11, 1988-89).

The Penguins beat the Sharks 2-1 in overtime after Sidney Crosby waited and waited and waited before setting up Jake Guentzel‘s winner.

Alex Ovechkin‘s empty-net goal was his 25th of the season, putting him one behind league leader Leon Draisaitl. It was also the 755th of his career. He’s now 11 goals behind Jaromir Jagr for third place on the NHL’s all-time list.

In his second AHL game since the 2004-05 season, Eric Staal netted the overtime winner during the Iowa Wild’s 3-2 win over the Chicago Wolves. He also had a goal and an assist during Friday night’s victory.

Three takeaways from the NHL on Saturday

T.J. Oshie can not catch a break this season

The Capitals were 2-0 winners against the Islanders thanks to goals from Tom Wilson and Alex Ovechkin and a shutout in goal from Vitek Vanecek. That is the good news. The bad news is veteran forward T.J. Oshie exited the game with an upper-body injury and did not return. He has been limited to just 18 games so far this season and every time he returns to the lineup seems to have something else go wrong. He has missed time this season due to COVID protocols, the flu, and various injuries.

The Panthers are a wagon

After dropping four straight heading into the NHL’s early Christmas break last month, the Panthers have eight wins in their last nine games and, like Cobra Kai, are showing no mercy on their opponents.

During these eight victories, the Panthers have scored nine goals twice and netted at least five on seven occasions. In their last nine games they are outscoring opponents 54-24. How wild is this offensive outburst? Consider that in 30 games this season the Islanders have scored a total of 67 times.

Florida leads the NHL in points percentage (.750), goals (158), home wins (21-3-0), and are tied for first in wins (26), points (57), regulation/overtime wins (25).

Sunday’s big story

There is only one game on the NHL schedule for Sunday (with Jets vs. Oilers postponed) and it will feature Bruce Boudreau leading the Canucks against his former team in Washington. The Canucks are desperately trying to stay in the Western Conference playoff race and are currently in the middle of a brutally tough road trip that has taken them against some of the league’s best teams. They have already lost games to Tampa Bay, Florida, and Carolina (by a combined margin of 13-5) and still have games against the Capitals and Predators remaining on the trip. After a 7-0-0 start with Boudreau, the Canucks are now 1-3-1 in their past five games.

Saturday’s NHL Scores

Hurricanes 4, Canucks 1
Bruins 4, Predators 3 (OT)
Capitals 2, Islanders 0
Panthers 9, Blue Jackets 2
Red Wings 4, Sabres 0
Rangers 3, Flyers 2
Lightning 3, Stars 1
Maple Leafs 6, Blues 5
Blackhawks 3, Ducks 0
Kings 3, Kraken 1
Senators 6, Oilers 4
Avalanche 5, Coyotes 0
Penguins 2, Sharks 1 (OT)

On 2022 NHL All-Star Game snubs, and who should be ‘Last Men in?’

On 2022 NHL All-Star Game snubs, and who should be 'Last Men in?'
Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images
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Yes, there are ways to enhance the NHL All-Star Game, including ways to cut down on “snubs.”

Truly, the league could pursue fun, entertainment, and … if they have time left over, a fair representation of each season’s NHL All-Stars. In a dream world, there would still be those messy, almost certainly drunken “fantasy draft” exercises to divide up teams. Maybe we could all even embrace the reality that “The Skills Competition” has been better than each All-Star Game since … (runs out of fingers to count with)?

But the bottom line is that all of the camouflage and flourishes can’t obscure the deeper reality that the 2022 NHL All-Star Game can only be so enthralling. It’s ultimately an exhibition for sponsors and fans (especially young ones).

If anything, it’s best to embrace the salty spirit of NHL All-Star snubs. Thanks to Nathan MacKinnon, we got at least a dash of that.

MacKinnon, Marchand on 2022 NHL All-Star Game snubs

One thing that validates the existence of NHL All-Star Games is that, when they happen, they can serve as neat time capsules.

For every Rory Fitzpatrick fan-voted surge that gets spiked, there’s the occasional John Scott All-Star Game show-stealer. In the case of the 2022 NHL All-Star Game, there was a chance to celebrate a shockingly strong season from Nazem Kadri.

When Kadri hasn’t been making waves with terrible playoff suspensions, he’s often been an underrated player. Yet, even those who noticed his sneaky-good work didn’t expect him to rank fourth in scoring with 48 points. This could’ve been a chance to remember it in a “formal” way.

[Check out the 2022 NHL All-Star Game rosters here]

But, there simply wasn’t room for Kadri, and that bothered Avalanche teammate Nathan MacKinnon.

“It’s silly. I don’t think every team should send a guy,” MacKinnon said, via Peter Baugh of The Athletic. ” … It’s an All-Star Game, not a Participation Game.”

Can we dock MacKinnon a point off the bat for referencing every crusty person on earth complaining about “participation medals?”

Anyway, MacKinnon has a point about how strenuous it can be to try to fill out rosters while including at least one player from the lowliest NHL teams.

[Seriously, it was tough to thread the needle under the league’s current format]

That said, his most prescient point was unintentional: again, the 2022 NHL All-Star Game, and snub talk … “it’s silly.”

Like it or not, NHL fans do want to see their teams represented, at least more often than not. We also shouldn’t ignore the elephant in the room: players often decide to skip out on the NHL All-Star Game, anyway. Sometimes even if it means getting suspended.

Add in the additional risk of players convening during the age of COVID, and you wonder if Brad Marchand and others aren’t exactly heartbroken about missing the 2022 NHL All-Star Game.

2022 NHL All-Star Game: Who should be ‘Last Men In?’

While by no means comprehensive, the league seized on the spirit of snub debates by letting fans vote on “The Last Men In” for the 2022 NHL All-Star Game. Voters can submit ballots here until Jan . 17.

Being that fans can submit “up to 10 ballots every 24 hours,” let’s try to gauge who should be “The Last Men In” in our own, PHT way. That’s with polls and some quick analysis.

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division

Boston Bruins — Charlie McAvoy
Buffalo Sabres — Tage Thompson
Detroit Red Wings — Lucas Raymond
Florida Panthers —  Aleksander Barkov
Montreal Canadiens — Tyler Toffoli
Ottawa Senators — Brady Tkachuk
Tampa Bay Lightning — Steven Stamkos
Toronto Maple Leafs —  John Tavares

My pick: Steven Stamkos

Sheesh, isn’t it enough that Steven Stamkos still didn’t get to go to the Olympics? Let’s provide some solace in the form of an All-Star nod. Best yet, Stamkos very much deserves it. After the Lightning basically won a Stanley Cup without him, it seemed like Stammer’s best days were behind him. It was even plausible to trade him for salary cap space.

Yet, this season, he’s been brilliant. Most obviously, Stamkos ranks sixth in scoring with 45 points.

As nice as it would be for Charlie McAvoy to get more mainstream attention, or for Brady Tkachuk to get a chance to be a goofball on a national stage, Stamkos is the pick.

Metropolitan Division

Carolina Hurricanes — Andrei Svechnikov
Columbus Blue Jackets — Jakub Voracek
New Jersey Devils — Jesper Bratt
New York Islanders — Mathew Barzal
New York Rangers —  Mika Zibanejad
Philadelphia Flyers — Cam Atkinson
Pittsburgh Penguins — Jake Guentzel
Washington Capitals — Evgeny Kuznetsov

My pick: Jake Guentzel

Hopefully, this serves as a reminder that Jake Guentzel isn’t just some player who lives off of Sidney Crosby. Don’t get me wrong; Crosby enhances Guentzel’s play, but the underrated Penguins forward is brilliant in his own right. Stylistically, it would’ve been refreshing to see Mathew Barzal run free in an All-Star environment, but Guentzel’s the fair choice.

Western Conference

Central Division

Arizona Coyotes — Phil Kessel
Chicago Blackhawks — Seth Jones
Colorado Avalanche —  Nazem Kadri
Dallas Stars — Jason Robertson
Minnesota Wild — Ryan Hartman
Nashville Predators — Roman Josi
St. Louis Blues —  Robert Thomas
Winnipeg Jets — Mark Scheifele

My pick: Nazem Kadri

All of that talk about Nazem Kadri being an All-Star snub and … phew, it sure was close between him and Roman Josi.

Kadri has the substance to earn the Central Division “Last Men In” nod. There’s also the style, too. The novelty of a good but rarely heralded player beating a Norris Trophy winner feels just right.

(Just stop delivering bad hits, please, Kadri.)

Pacific Division

Anaheim Ducks — Troy Terry
Calgary Flames — Matthew Tkachuk
Edmonton Oilers — Darnell Nurse
Los Angeles Kings — Drew Doughty
San Jose Sharks — Logan Couture
Seattle Kraken — Mark Giordano
Vancouver Canucks —  J.T. Miller
Vegas Golden Knights — Jonathan Marchessault

My pick: Troy Terry

At minimum, each “Last Men In” pick has at least one really tough matchup. In the Pacific Division’s case, I struggled between Troy Terry and Matthew Tkachuk.

Between that stunning point streak, and just how fun the Ducks have been, Terry gets the edge. That said, maybe we can just make sure the Tkachuk brothers can attend the 2022 NHL All-Star Game anyway? Have some sibling skills competitions?

Anyway, which players would you add to the 2022 NHL All-Star Game rosters? And do you have any snubs to get off your chest? Do tell, and do vote.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.