Hey guys! Do you remember that thing called the NHL All-Star Game? You know from the George W. Bush administration?
That may be a little dramatic, but it’s been three years since the last time the NHL gathered up its best players, put them in a fantasy draft and shoved them out on the ice for a game with 30 combined goals. That whole lockout and Olympics thing prevented All-Star festivities in 2013 and 2014, but never fear because 2015 is here.
The Pacific Division has eight All-Stars – four forwards and four defensemen. All seven teams in the division are and must be represented and only the defending Stanley Cup champions have multiple players participating in Sunday’s game.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the division’s best on the eve of the All-Star game.
Ryan Getzlaf (C – Anaheim Ducks)
The Ducks lead the Pacific Division, but have only one All-Star. Getzlaf has 15 goals and 50 points, the seventh most points in the NHL and third most in the Western Conference.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (C – Edmonton Oilers)
Edmonton’s lone All-Star has the third-lowest point total among all selected forwards. Nugent-Hopkins has a dozen goals and 29 points in 45 games for the Pacific Division cellar dweller Oilers this season.
Anze Kopitar (C – Los Angeles Kings)
The top line center in the City of Angels, Kopitar scored 11 goals and 37 points so far this season. He is the only Kings forward at the event, but he does have a teammate in Columbus on the blue line.
Radim Vrbata (RW – Vancouver Canucks)
Vrbata is the only Canuck at this weekend’s festivities after making a seamless transition from Arizona to Vancouver in the offseason. The Pacific Division’s only primary winger in the game has 18 goals and 31 points for the Canucks this season.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson (D – Arizona Coyotes)
The lone wolf, err, Coyote in Columbus, super Swede Ekman-Larsson will enjoy his first All-Star game appearance on Sunday. Arizona’s top defenseman has an NHL-high 12 goals from the blue line this season.
Mark Giordano (D – Calgary Flames)
Calgary’s lone All-Star and best player is a serious Norris Trophy contender at the break. He leads all NHL defensemen and all Flames with 40 points.
Brent Burns (D – San Jose Sharks)
Surprisingly San Jose’s only All-Star game participant, Burns’ transition back to defenseman has been highly successful. He ranks third among all blueliners with 35 points.
Drew Doughty (D – Los Angeles Kings)
Doughty plays a ton of minutes (29:22 per game), the second most of any player in the league, behind only fellow All-Star Ryan Suter. Doughty has four goals and 28 points this season.
*Also participating in the festivities is Flames rookie Johnny Gaudreau. He will participate in NHL All-Star Skills Competition.