Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Mirtle All-stars

They may tell you differently, but this is the team NHLers really want to make.

No it's not. That doesn't even make sense. But with the all-star team reserves set to be named for the Western Conference tomorrow and the Eastern Conference on Friday, here are my somewhat wacky picks for the 30 reserve players.

Please note that I'm taking into consideration everything, including defensive and special teams performance, and that there's no need to name a player from each team.


Eastern Conference

Goal
Martin Brodeur's already in, meaning the fans took the easy way out. The East hasn't exactly been kind to netminders this season, but the contenders for these two spots basically boil down to Tim Thomas, Cristobal Huet, Tomas Vokoun, Martin Biron, Martin Gerber, Henrik Lundqvist and Rick DiPietro. I choose:

Tim Thomas, Boston: Gets the nod here for a ridiculous save percentage (.931)
Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers: Has kept the lowest-scoring team in the league in the hunt


Defence
Sergei Gonchar, Pittsburgh: Has been surprisingly solid defensively
Paul Martin, New Jersey: Plays the toughest minutes as new No. 1
Brian Campbell, Buffalo: One of the few bright spots for Sabres
Tobias Enstrom, Atlanta: Calder candidate has impressed in every way


Forwards
Dany Heatley, Ottawa: Twenty-five goals and plus-32
Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay: On pace for 97 points
Jason Spezza, Ottawa: NHL's top player in points per minute (5-on-5)
Mats Sundin, Toronto: Could be a career year at age 36
Mike Richards, Philadelphia: Suddenly an offensive dynamo
Alex Kovalev, Montreal: Best season in five years
Ilya Kovalchuk, Atlanta: Dominant offence, terrible defence
Alex Ovechkin, Washington: Leads NHL in power-play goals
Scott Gomez, Rangers: So much for a slump



Western Conference

Goal
Roberto Luongo was the no-brainer choice made by the fans, but there have been several terrific netminding performances in the West this season (Chris Osgood and Manny Legace get honourable mentions). Here are my picks for the two other deserving goaltenders:

Evgeni Nabokov, San Jose: Has started every game and leads league in wins
Ilya Bryzgalov, Phoenix: His play with the Coyotes has been Hart-worthy


Defence
Chris Pronger, Anaheim: Top defensive defender is fifth in points among blueliners
Sergei Zubov, Dallas: Ageless wonder has been terrific
Brent Burns, Minnesota: 22-year-old star in the making
Derek Morris, Phoenix: Plus-10 despite matching against top lines every night


Forwards
Mike Ribeiro, Dallas: As much production as Thornton so far
Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim: Doing it all for Ducks and plus-17
Jonathan Toews, Chicago: Has been a star when healthy
Paul Stastny, Colorado: Facing tough assignments with Sakic out
Brenden Morrow, Dallas: Incredibly underrated star
Shawn Horcoff, Edmonton: Terrific year despite power-play struggles
Patrick Sharp, Chicago: Top penalty killer on pace for 40 goals
Kristian Huselius, Calgary: Imagine that — a huge year under Keenan
Joe Thornton, San Jose: Quietly having another great season


Honourable mentions:
East: Vokoun, Coburn, T. Kaberle, Antropov, Whitney, Horton
West: Osgood, Rafalski, Ohlund, Lehtinen, Hemsky, H. Sedin


Starters
Eastern Conference
Martin Brodeur
Andrei Markov, Zdeno Chara
Sidney Crosby, Vinny Lecavalier, Daniel Alfredsson

Western Conference
Roberto Luongo**
Nicklas Lidstrom, Dion Phaneuf
Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Jarome Iginla


UPDATE Luongo's opted to pull out of the game, so I'm going to give his spot to Osgood. I know he plays for the best team in hockey but a 19-2-1 record (!) and proof from the numbers junkies is enough to earn him the spot.
.

Labels:

41 Comments:

At 8:43 AM, January 09, 2008, Blogger Loser Chris said...

No Pascal Leclaire? Seems like he is a more worthy choice than Bryzgalov.

 
At 9:09 AM, January 09, 2008, Blogger Hooks Orpik said...

Gomez over Malkin?

 
At 9:26 AM, January 09, 2008, Anonymous JSav said...

What about Rick Nash? He has 22 goals and is keeping a Columbus team afloat that has been without Modin, Vyborny, Peca, and others for most of the season.

 
At 9:49 AM, January 09, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thin Rick DiPietro has kept the lwoest scoring team in the hunt.

 
At 10:38 AM, January 09, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No Mike Green from Washington. Only leads defense in goals. He is in the middle of his coming out party and certainly deserves a spot!

 
At 10:48 AM, January 09, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ilya Kovalchuk's defense is hardly terrible. He's been dominant in every way this year and can't be given enough credit for his performance.

 
At 11:02 AM, January 09, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Typical Canadian journalist. Columbus does not have an NHL team as far as they are concerned until they need Nash for the World Championships and Leclaire deserves at least an honorable mention as he only leads the NHL in shutouts.

 
At 11:51 AM, January 09, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As talented as Sid the Kid may be, his dominance in the All-Star voting is as much a product of the NHL hype machine as anything else. I already knwo more than few people that hate Crosby just because he is so oversold.

It seems the NHL has decided to market Crosby to the exclusion of everyone else in order to create the next Gretzky. The folly of this move is easily seen in basketball with the retirement of Jordan and the lack of interest when Tiger isn't playing and hockey itself when Gretzky became a shadow of himself.

Rivalries between great players (such as Bird vs Johnson) is far more entertaining than worshipping at a lone idol's altar. With Kids like Ovechkin, Toews, Stastny and Kane to name just a couple coming into their prime why not open up the debate as who will be the best instead?

 
At 12:31 PM, January 09, 2008, Blogger Baroque said...

With Kids like Ovechkin, Toews, Stastny and Kane to name just a couple coming into their prime why not open up the debate as who will be the best instead?

It makes too much sense and is too much work?

The funny thing is, if you already follow hockey, there is a chance that you are already sick to death of the Crosby hype machine. But if you are a casual fan, you don't find him oversold at all, as Bruce MacLeod described in this post:

http://redwingscorner.blogspot.com/2008/01/nhl-forecast-sunny-if-theres-more-snow.html

I don't know what the answer is. You can't simultaneously appeal to both groups with the same ad campaign.

 
At 1:19 PM, January 09, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Typical anonymous commenter.

Heh, lots of love for the selections so far: I've talked about Leclaire before, but what holds him back is a very low win total (he's on pace for just 25 this season) and the fact he faces easy, easy shots under Hitchcock's system.

Nash was closer to making it, especially with his play on the penalty kill, but he hasn't done much on the power play and is behind 16 other Western Conference forwards in points.

Hardly a no-brainer.

 
At 1:20 PM, January 09, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

I thin Rick DiPietro has kept the lwoest scoring team in the hunt.

This is a going point; I believe the Isles fell lower than the Rangers after last night's games.

 
At 1:25 PM, January 09, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

What holds Malkin back slightly is his defence:

Gomez:
EVGAA/on = 2.13
EVGAA/off = 1.94

Malkin:
EVGAA/on = 3.10
EVGAA/off = 2.14

Behind The Net rating:
Gomez: 1.18
Malkin: 0.60

And Gomez faces more difficult opposition and his power-play numbers are better.

 
At 1:34 PM, January 09, 2008, Anonymous Paul said...

It's nice to see a post on the all-star game that doesn't bemoan its irrelevance.

I should point out that it's impossible to imagine Huselius being named when there's already a pair of Flames starting, regardless of whether or not he actually merits a spot. Someone like Rick Nash will get in this way.

 
At 1:40 PM, January 09, 2008, Blogger Bruce said...

Interesting choice of words, James, that the fans' choice of Luongo is a "no brainer" while that of Brodeur is "the easy way out". Brodeur, correctly chosen over Luongo for the Vezina last season IMO, did have a slow start by his high standards, but even those fans who voted way early (one of the problems with the process) could place considerable stock in his record over the long term. Not surprisingly his play has returned to its usual level of brilliance.

Last season New Jersey won their division and finished second in the East despite scoring the second fewest goals. This morning's standings show the exact same situation: second in the conference, second last in goals for. Yes it's a team thing -- this just in, so is Vancouver -- but the Devils heart-and-soul goalie is at the core of their success, as he has been for his entire, glorious career.

After yet another brilliant performance last night to steal yet another 2-1 Devils' victory, Brodeur has gone 17-3-1 over his past 21 starts, posting a GAA of 1.69 over that span with 4 shutouts, 6 one-goal games, 7 two-goal games ... He won a game 1-0 in OT and lost another, generating three standings points from games the Devils themselves were shut out in regulation. He recorded his 500th career win and set an all-time record for shutouts inc. playoffs,important milestones in a career which already stands as one of the greatest of all time and may well wind up being the greatest.

If I bothered to vote for the Midseason Schmoozefest I would take the easy way out myself.

 
At 1:41 PM, January 09, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

I was using no-brainer and easy way out in the exact same context; the fans in both cases took the veteran goaltender having an outstanding season.

Luongo and Brodeur deserve the starting spots (which I've already said previously).

 
At 1:43 PM, January 09, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

On Kovalchuk: Dead last in the league in goals against per minute played

Unless you've got some different data, that's terrible defence.

 
At 1:47 PM, January 09, 2008, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

I don't really know why, James, but I keep looking back at the two rosters you've put together, and I just can't help thinking, "Man, the east would kill the west with these lineups."

Maybe I'm a bit too tired, or possibly I'm crazy.

 
At 1:51 PM, January 09, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

No Mike Green from Washington. Only leads defense in goals. He is in the middle of his coming out party and certainly deserves a spot!

Mike Green hasn't been great on the power play or defensively. Still a great breakout season — just not all-star calibre.

 
At 2:07 PM, January 09, 2008, Blogger Menzies said...

Typical Canadian journalist. Columbus does not have an NHL team as far as they are concerned until they need Nash for the World Championships...

How is leaving Nash and Leclaire off the squad a typical Canadian journalist thing? Nash is Canadian, as is Pascal Leclaire. I'm missing something.

Not only is almost every team represented, but by my count he's got several Americans on the roster ahead of two possible Canadian candidates. So, are you suggesting, no, wait, you're not...you, you aren't *gasp* suggesting we Canadians are too polite? If you are, well, I guess we're sorry. No wait! Oooh, foiled again. Next year Mirtle, you heard him: All Canadians, all the time.

 
At 2:14 PM, January 09, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

DP is ahead of Hank in the standings as of last night and still has less goal support with one game fewer played. The MSG hype really does mesmerize people and removes them from reality some times. Not to mention the 3-1 lead in head to head.

 
At 2:33 PM, January 09, 2008, Blogger Bruce said...

I was using no-brainer and easy way out in the exact same context; the fans in both cases took the veteran goaltender having an outstanding season.

Thanks James, just checking. :) I thought it wouldn't hurt to quantify how outstanding Brodeur has been. Marty tends to be overlooked because people generally don't like New Jersey much, but the Olympic gold medallist and World Cup champion is still Canada's #1 on merit.

That said, in fairness to Luongo he's putting together an incredible season of his own, similar to Brodeur's in that he has bounced back spectacularly from a so-so start. The Canucks lead the Northwest despite being tied for the fewest goals for in the division. Since Nov. 1 Canada's #2 has posted a 16-4-3 record with a microscopic 1.50 GAA and 6 shutouts, 5 one-goal games and 7 two-goal games. Sound familiar?

With due respect to the likes of Nabokov -- who is having a Vezina-consideration season himself -- Osgood, and Lundqvist, in both the current season and the longer term Brodeur and Luongo have established themselves as the class of the league and certainly of their respective conferences, and are the natural choices to start the All-Star game.

The fans did a good job this year, not exactly the 12 I would have picked (e.g. Zubov, not Phaneuf) but pretty darn close with no selections nor omissions generating so much as a WTF? Hopefully the journalists who typically heap abuse on the fans' choices (not you, James, I don't think, but many of your associates) will therefore give credit where it's due or at the very least STFU this year. It is generally true that a journalist commenting in January knows better than a fan voting in November, but as a (non-voting) fan I sometimes find the tone of such censures a little condescending.

 
At 3:33 PM, January 09, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow gotta agree with the comments about leaving Nash and Leclaire off the team. You claim Nash isn't good enough on the power play, and Leclaire doesn't have enough wins. Also Leclaire see many stoppable shots.

Whatever, it's obvious that you have it in for the Bluejackets. Regardless where the player comes from. Last year Nash had a outstanding AllStar game, and should've been the MVP. As for the stats you keep quoting, the CBJ has half a team at best. It's amazing what Hitch has done, but I wouldn't give him all the credit. Everytime Nash is on the ice, he has three opponents within a couple feet of him. And have you even looked at the "awesome" defensemen we have, lol...this is typical Canadian garbage.

But, it's your opinion/blog. Say what you like.

 
At 3:44 PM, January 09, 2008, Anonymous PPP said...

I bet the last anonymous commenter is the same fan that chants U-S-A! during games when his Canadian goalie and Canadian superstar have helped an American-based team beat a Canadian-based team.

If you disagree with:
Heh, lots of love for the selections so far: I've talked about Leclaire before, but what holds him back is a very low win total (he's on pace for just 25 this season) and the fact he faces easy, easy shots under Hitchcock's system.

Nash was closer to making it, especially with his play on the penalty kill, but he hasn't done much on the power play and is behind 16 other Western Conference forwards in points.


At least provide counter arguments other than the ridiculous "typical Canadian garbage".

 
At 3:57 PM, January 09, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the reading impared, CBJ great defensive corp:

Adam Foote
Ron Hainsey
Jan Hejda
Rostislav Klesla
Kris Russell
Ole-Kristian Tollefsen
Duvie Westcott

Awesome Dmen...just awesome!

Shawn Horcoff PTS 39 G 18 A 21 : looks like Horcoff has someone to pass too.

or

Rick Nash PTS 37 G 22 A 15 : looks like Nash has no one to pass too. And that's how it has always been in Columbus.

Yeah, I would of picked Horcoff too! After all, they gave the MVP to a guy with 4assists last year.

 
At 4:22 PM, January 09, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

You wonder where this strange, anti-Columbus bias comes from. I mean, I've got unheralded players from Atlanta, New Jersey, Phoenix, Minnesota, Chicago and all kinds of other American markets.

Nash versus Horcoff
Even strength goals for /60:
2.49 to 3.14

Even strength goals against /60:
2.49 to 2.19

So... Horcoff's team scores more and gives up fewer goals when he's on the ice, and they both play against relatively equal opposition.

And, again, Nash has terrific numbers shorthanded.

 
At 4:43 PM, January 09, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's what I thought you said James, I'm just taking it to the next logical step:

You think Horcoff is better than Rick Nash.

That's why I'm saying this is typical Canadian garbage. Would your collegues agree with that statment, or would they walk away lol? NVM, I know what I would do...

 
At 4:51 PM, January 09, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

I've made a 100-per-cent statistically based argument for why Horcoff is better. I'd be happy to read your counterargument.

 
At 4:58 PM, January 09, 2008, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

If Nash played for an even shittier team, he could be league MVP!!!

 
At 5:11 PM, January 09, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok counter arguement, sense that is the catch phrase around here:

Trade players...Nash on Oil, Horcoff on Jackets. Who would have the better stats then?

That's what I thought.....I'm done argueing with children. Keep living in that fanatsy world where only (team) stats matter. Last time I looked they don't pick based on how well a team does. I look for all-star based on ability, not numbers. Ofcourse this conversation leads me to believe you look for those North of the Border before anything else. Typical Canadian.

 
At 5:22 PM, January 09, 2008, Anonymous Chad said...

Dallas fan and homer here, but Lehtinen does not deserve to be an honorable mention this season. If he had stayed healthy, maybe, but he's been out for two months and won't return until late January. Morrow is a bit of a jump, though I certainly agree he is underrated.

In my mind the only Dallas Star that should be assured a shot is Sergei Zubov, however it wouldn't surprise me if he didn't want to play in the game anyways.

 
At 5:23 PM, January 09, 2008, Anonymous k said...

All this arguing and name calling is pointless. In a year or two, Columbus won't even have a team anymore, and none of this will matter.

 
At 5:30 PM, January 09, 2008, Blogger Baroque said...

Trade players...Nash on Oil, Horcoff on Jackets. Who would have the better stats then?

Horcoff - because Nash would immediately get injured! That's the Oiler way this year. :)

 
At 5:53 PM, January 09, 2008, Blogger Taste of Flames said...

James: A big thank you for the inclusion of Tobias Enstrom on your east defense. Its a shame he plays here in ATL an gets so little love from the hockey world. If he had teh same press as the Johnsons did coming into this season he would probably take the Calder (at least he and Backstrom will give Kane a run for his money).

As for Kovy, yeah his D-sucks, but it's getting better. Also, it's not like he has had any defensive wonders to coach him like Nash now does. Anyway, its the All-Star Game, who cares how his D is?

 
At 6:54 PM, January 09, 2008, Anonymous steve said...

What, no Leafs?

Typical anti-Toronto bias.

 
At 6:56 PM, January 09, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

What team's Sundin on now?

 
At 7:24 PM, January 09, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Typical Canadian? Good grief. Get over yourself and get a life.

First it was a nationwide conspiracy of the Canadian media versus the Philadelphia Flyers, and now it's tyipcal Canadian sentiment to keep a CANADIAN off the all-star team simply because he plays in Columbus. Yea, ok. For sure. You caught us! I thought we could go on for years by hiding our dislike for that damn Columbus Bluejacket franchise.

There's only so many roster spots on the team, and when it comes down to it, it's basically a matter of opinion. So what if James likes Horcoff over a guy like Nash in this instance? How on Earth does that prove an anti-Columbus bias? No one has even remotely said that Nash doesn't deserve considration - of course he does. But what about the lack of consideration for a player like Daniel Sedin? He has similar totals to Nash and plays on an offensively inept team as well. Does that mean an anti-Swedish agenda???

It's almost to the point where I have a hard time reading these posts anymore. The blogosphere has turned into the old Fanhome Forums. Blech.

 
At 8:31 PM, January 09, 2008, Blogger Staff said...

Solid pick in Gonch.

 
At 9:30 PM, January 09, 2008, Anonymous JSav said...

Wow....I didn't mean to start a crap storm. I am a Blue Jacket fan and think Nash and Leclaire should be on the team (it looks like Leclaire has a better chance with Luongo skipping the game), but I hardly think James has a bias against the CBJ.

I've gotten to see Nash night in and night out and with all the injuries to the forwards, he has faced every top pairing on every shift....he has 22 goals, is killing penalties and a HUGE reason why the CBJ are close to the playoffs.

Love the blog, James!

 
At 9:49 PM, January 09, 2008, Blogger Adam C said...

For the reading impared...

I love self-parody...

 
At 2:53 AM, January 10, 2008, Blogger Staff said...

Columbus has fans?

 
At 4:36 PM, January 10, 2008, Anonymous Realist said...

Horcoff is a better player than Nash. Nash is a much better goal-scorer, but Horcoff is a better, more valuable player in EVERY OTHER way.

People don't like players that help teams win, they like guys that score 30 and finish -12 while playing against nobodies. Go figure.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home

Links to this post:

Create a Link


.

Free Page Rank Checker
eXTReMe Tracker