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Choosing my 2013 All-NHL Team, Eastern Conference

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Alexander Ovechkin is a Hart Trophy contender.

A position switch and an attitude adjustment made Alex Ovechkin a Hart Trophy candidate. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

When the NHL announces its annual All-Star teams at the league’s awards show in June, it will stick with a formula that rings a bit untrue this season. How, after all, can someone be an All-NHL player if he hasn’t played against the entire NHL?

In coming up with our end-of-regular season honors, we’ve decided that the lockout-abbreviated campaign with its intraconference-only games requires a different take, so our All-NHL teams will be broken down by conference to reflect the unique scheduling.

Here are our Eastern honorees. In case you missed them, our Western winners can be found here.

Center: Sidney Crosby, Penguins

The jaw injury that limited him to just 36 games opened the door to a couple of intriguing candidates here. Ultimately though, this is about the best player at the position, not the most valuable, and when he was on the ice, Crosby operated at a different level — arguably playing the best hockey of his career. His diligent adherence to self-improvement paid off with a quicker, more effective wrist shot and with greater success in the face-off circle. Hard to believe this kid can still get better.

Honorable mention: John Tavares; Steven Stamkos, Lightning

Right wing: Alex Ovechkin, Capitals

Accepting a change to the right side revitalized his sagging fortunes and returned him to the top of the scoring charts. Finding his legs (and will) after a slow start, Ovechkin was the prime driver behind a 14-2-1 run that vaulted the Caps from 14th in the East to the Southeast title. His 14 goals in April established a new league mark, setting him up for a third Rocket Richard Trophy and a likely nod as a finalist for the Hart.

Honorable mention: Martin St. Louis, Lightning; Alex Semin, Hurricanes

Left wing: Chris Kunitz, Penguins

It would be easy to write off Kunitz as a modern Warren Young, the proverbial fire hydrant who piled up points strictly as a result of Mario Lemieux’s largesse back in the mid-80s. No doubt it hasn’t hurt him to skate alongside the league’s top center, but Kunitz has earned his success the hard way, battling for loose pucks and precious space in the mosh pit in front of opposing netminders. He finished in the top-10 in goals, points and plus-minus, and he’s been incredibly consistent, too. As long as he gets on the board in the finale, he’ll have gone the entire season without a scoreless streak of more than one game.

Honorable mention: Andrew Ladd, Winnipeg; Rick Nash, Rangers

Defense: PK Subban, Canadiens

The Subban bashers (and there are many) point out that he hasn’t logged the minutes of the league’s top defenders. Fair enough, but that’s not enough to dismiss everything else he’s accomplished this year. The numbers alone stand out: he leads all defenders in goals and points and is first overall in power play points. But what’s really made an impression is his commitment to his overall game that’s seen him minimizing the risk while maximizing the reward, making him the most impactful two-way defender in the East and a legitimate Norris contender.

Defenseman: Zdeno Chara, Bruins

Watching Chara meltdown against the Flyers the other day served as a jarring reminder of just how effortless his game-to-game excellence seems, making it easy to take his peerless physical and mental tools for granted. His offensive numbers are down this year, but there’s still no more imposing presence on the ice…and no defender you’d want out there to protect a lead.

Honorable mention: Kris Letang, Penguins, Andrei Markov, Canadiens

Goaltender: Tuukka Rask, Bruins

He was overshadowed early by Craig Anderson and late by Sergei Bobrovksy, but Rasks’s steady performance as the successor to the iconoclastic Tim Thomas in Boston has been one of the season’s best stories. He’s allowed two goals or fewer in 24 of his 34 appearances, and ranks in the top-three in shutouts (first, with five), save percentage (second, at .931) and GAA (third, at 1.94).

Honorable mention: Craig Anderson, Senators; Evgeni Nabokov, Islanders

  • Published On Apr 26, 2013
  • 5 comments
    michael.e.munn
    michael.e.munn

    Without Crosby in the lineup for about 35% of the season, the Pens still finished 1st in conference thanks to their GM and his awesomeness that should be wanted by all teams. Take Tavares away from the Islanders for 35% of the season, and the Isles are picking 3rd in the draft come summer time. You are an idiot Mr. Muir. Let your eyes make the decision for you, and rationality; not your love for everything Pitt that Bettman pushes the medias way in form of a golden boy whose team is incredibly pieced together regardless of a 1st line center in the lineup or not. 

    JayLandon
    JayLandon

    Bullstuff!  I have watched PK Subban.  Dynamic offensive defenseman BUT he is no better than Mike Green was a few years ago on defense, when everyone said Green wasn't good enough as a defensive defenseman to win a Norris.  Suban is no better than Green was then, and Green then was a better offensive player than Subban is now.

    cairochris
    cairochris

     @michael.e.munn You just said why Tavares is an MVP candidate, but as he said, this is not a list of MVPs at the positions, its a list of the best player at each position.  And Crosby was statistically better than Tavares.  

     

    If this was a list of MVPs, you could make an argument for Nabokov in the goalie category as well, because the Bruins may make the playoffs without Rask given their defensive system but given that it was Nabokov's GAA dropping by a full goal or so in early March that really made the Isles a legit playoff contender (in fact, you could make the argument that that makes him more valuable than Tavares, because what they had lacked until this year was not offense so much as consistent goaltending...I won't make that argument here, but one could make it).  But again, there is no denying Rask was the better player, so he gets the nod.  

    Rupe
    Rupe

     @michael.e.munn It's an all-NHL team, not MVP...your argument makes no sense in that context.

    RafalPruszyn-ski
    RafalPruszyn-ski

    @michael.e.munn This is about the best team possible, not about who is most valuable to his team, and Crosby is not only heads and shoulders but wais, knees and ankles, and arguable soles of feet above Tavares.