The Sedins are going back to the All-Star Game. Matthew Barnaby? Not so much.
The NHL’s All-Stars were announced today, and to the surprise of absolutely no one, the Sedins will appear in the game at Scotiabank Place on January 29th. It will be Henrik’s third trip to the NHL’s sponsorship showcase, and Daniel’s second. Cody Hodgson will also represent the Canucks at all-star weekend as a member of the "All-Star Rookies" team. The biggest surprise inclusion was Alex Edler, who will make his first career All-Star appearance in Ottawa.
Lots of folks around the league, and even Canucks fans, will be surprised by Edler’s inclusion in All-Star Weekend, but they shouldn’t be. Edler has been extremely productive caddying the Sedins this season, and is fourth among all NHL defenseman in scoring with 7 goals, 23 assists and 30 points. While Edler is easily the most purely skilled defenseman on the Vancouver Canucks, you could make a convincing argument that he’s really the team’s third best blue-liner, behind Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa.
The thing about an all-star game, however, is that it’s all about skilled hockey. It isn’t about steady defensive play or elite chirping ability, and if it were Bieksa and Hamhuis would’ve garnered more consideration. As such, bringing Edler to the showcase makes a lot of sense, and he’ll have a chance to turn some heads with his marvelous collection of back-end dangles.
In terms of all-star snubs, I suppose some folks will point to Ryan Kesler, though it’s hard to get worked up about that when your team has four representatives at All-Star weekend. While Kesler’s two-way play has remained stellar this season, he’s not even in the top-60 in NHL scoring. Again, the All-Star game is about skill and offense, and for what it’s worth Kesler only has one more point on the season than Alex Edler! If you want to be your team’s third representative, you’re going to have to force your way on to the roster with a remarkable offensive season. Despite being the Canucks best player at even-strength and clearly the straw that stirs the drink in Vancouver, Kesler hasn’t done that; so to call him an All-Star snub is a bit of a stretch.
Aaron Rome on the other hand, has legitimate cause to be pissed. He’s second among D-men in goals per-sixty minutes for chirst sakes! I tell you, if the All-Star game were about integrity, and the value players provide to their teams, Aaron Rome would’ve been a shoe-in. Not to go all Oiler fan on you, but the fact that Rome didn’t make it, diminishes the accomplishment of every other NHL All-Star.
There’s a couple of things I’ll be looking forward to with the Canucks All-Star reps this season. First of all, I’d love to see the Sedins skate together with a line-mate like last season’s final pick Phil Kessel, or this season’s final pick Alexander Ovechkin. Last season the Sedins were drafted back-to-back by different teams, which, made for a laugh during the player draft, but also took some of the fun out of the game.
Frankly, the Sedins skating together is among the most odd, unique and entertaining things to watch in the NHL at the moment. Splitting them up takes their uncanny displays of ESP out of the equation. If the goal of the all-star game is entertaining hockey, punctuated by jaw-dropping demonstrations of skill against a group of players who are totally dogging it on defense, the Sedins should clearly get the chance to skate on the same side. Hopefully the players are smart enough to leave the twins together.
Another thing I’ll be looking forward too is seeing how Hodgson and Edler fare in the hardest shot competition. As he demonstrated again last Saturday afternoon, Hodgson’s slapper is a full-on Mandel, by which I mean a Howie. I have to think he can top 95 with enough space. For Edler, the velocity he gets on his slap-shot is currently one of the most under-rated features of his game, but he could change that with a big performance in the competition on January 28th. Make no mistake, the hardest shot competition is a two man contest between Zdeno Chara and Shea Weber, but I’ll wager that Edler has a good showing.