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All-Star voting: Phil Kessel takes the lead

Fan voting update for the six starters for the Jan. 29 All-Star game:

Forwards

The weekly All-Star ballot update was announced Tuesday and, lo and behold, we have a new leader among forwards: Phil Kessel with 258,446.

The star winger leads the NHL in scoring and plays for a big-market team in Toronto, so this isn't surprising.

Sidney Crosby's return is just over a week old and he's already fourth in balloting at 206,863 -- and counting.

The host Ottawa Senators still have three forwards in the top five in Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek -- which again illustrates that this is an imperfect science.

1. Phil Kessel, Toronto - 258,446

2. Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa - 233,868

3. Jason Spezza, Ottawa - 209,455

4. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh - 206,863

5. Milan Michalek, Ottawa - 190,670

6. Joffrey Lupul, Toronto - 166,787

7. Claude Giroux, Philadelphia - 151,001

8. Jonathan Toews, Chicago - 137,387

9. Jaromir Jagr, Philadelphia - 126,250

10. Patrick Kane, Chicago - 120,439

11. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh - 110,576

12. Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit - 98,415

13. Marian Hossa, Chicago - 95,781

14. James Neal, Pittsburgh - 95,454

15. Alex Ovechkin, Washington - 88,222

16. Daniel Sedin, Vancouver - 83,125

17. Henrik Sedin, Vancouver - 73,551

18. Danny Briere, Philadelphia - 71,253

19. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay - 69,830

20. Patrick Sharp, Chicago - 69,125

21. Ryan Kesler, Vancouver - 68,388

22. * Tyler Seguin, Boston - 68,107

23. Marian Gaborik, NY Rangers 65,747

24. Jordan Staal, Pittsburgh - 65,728

25. Thomas Vanek, Buffalo - 61,077

26. Patrice Bergeron, Boston - 59,763

27. Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit - 59,274

28. Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles - 54,438

29. Joe Pavelski, San Jose - 51,221

30. Milan Lucic, Boston - 50,770

Defenseman

Erik Karlsson of the host Senators led all blueliners in balloting at 256,839 votes and, to be fair, the kid is having a heck of a year.

Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf was second at 213,617 and suddenly you realize voting might become a Battle of Ontario between two fan groups who despise each other.

That Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators is only ninth in voting with 114,063 votes is sad. Come on people!

1. Erik Karlsson, Ottawa - 256,839

2. Dion Phaneuf, Tornoto - 213,617

3. Kris Letang, Pittsburgh - 195,528

4. Zdeno Chara, Boston - 184,457

5. Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit - 169,218

6. Sergei Gonchar, Ottawa - 153,874

7. Duncan Keith, Chicago - 135,049

8. John-Michael Liles, Toronto - 133,379

9. Shea Weber, Nashville - 114,063

10. Brent Seabrook, Chicago - 108,723

11. Chris Pronger, Philadelphia - 100,076

12. P.K. Subban, Montreal - 93,427

13. Kimmo Timonen, Philadelphia - 91,273

14. Alexander Edler, Vancouver - 80,538

15. Dan Boyle, San Jose - 61,823

16. Niklas Kronwall, Detroit - 58,015

17. Drew Doughty, Los Angeles 57,022

18. Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg - 56,995

19. Brent Burns, San Jose - 54,356

20. Sheldon Souray, Dallas - 53,144

Goaltenders

Reigning Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins leads all goalies in votes with 175,315. No problem there.

That James Reimer of the Leafs is third with 161,405 even though he hasn't played since Oct. 22? Well, that's just silly.

Even sillier was that Jimmy Howard was a write-in candidate and not on the original ballot. The Detroit Red Wings netminder has been lights-out this season and deserves to be much higher than 14th in balloting at 44,610 votes.

1. Tim Thomas, Boston - 175,315

2. Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh - 169,721

3. James Reimer, Toronto - 161,405

4. Pekka Rinne, Nashville - 101,570

5. Carey Price, Montreal - 93,637

6. Henrik Lundqvist, NY Rangers - 92,808

7. Ilya Bryzgalov, Philadelphia - 84,498

8. Nikolai Khabibulin, Edmonton - 79,126

9. Roberto Luongo, Vancouver - 67,719

10. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles - 56,654

11. Kari Lehtonen, Dallas - 55,956

12. * Corey Crawford, Chicago - 53,604

13. Ryan Miller, Buffalo - 45,768

14. * Jimmy Howard, Detroit - 44,610

15. Martin Brodeur, New Jersey - 39,899

* - Write-in candidate