Hot and not
Jonathan Bernier, Toronto Maple Leafs
Bernier has bounced back after a nightmarish start to the season. He made 39 saves in a 4-0 shutout of the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday for his third straight win. All six of his wins this season have come in his past eight starts.
Carl Hagelin, Anaheim Ducks
Hagelin continues to struggle in Anaheim after coming from the New York Rangers in the offseason. He was held without a point against the Maple Leafs, and has only a single goal and no assists since the beginning of December.
Who are the biggest All-Star Game snubs?
@Real_ESPNLeBrun: The NHL announced its All-Star reserves Wednesday and, yawn, it generated the usual degree of outrage from fans and media over snubs. So why not join in? Based purely on numbers, the biggest snub was Blake Wheeler of the Winnipeg Jets, the highest-scoring player not named. Wheeler is seventh in the league with 40 points (10-30) in 40 games, and obviously is All-Star-worthy. But the biggest name to be snubbed definitely is Sidney Crosby, and I don't believe this was a case of the player quietly letting it be known he'd rather pass. I think Crosby would have gone. It is a bit stunning, really, especially when you consider everything he's done to sell the game throughout the years. The explanation is that when NHL hockey ops put together the list of invitees, it all boils down to numbers: they have to pick a player from every team while also taking six forwards, three defensemen and two goalies for each divisional squad. So you could say it came down to Crosby versus Evgeni Malkin, perhaps. I would have found a way to take both. Thing is, I'd be a hypocrite if I truly was worked up about this, because we all know my feelings on this event. It would be like a vegetarian getting upset about the menu items at a steakhouse.
@ESPN_Burnside: Vegetarian at a steakhouse? I like it, Pierre. There has been a push from some in the league to quit pandering to owners by having at least one player from each team at the All-Star Game. Did the Columbus Blue Jackets, the worst team in the NHL, deserve to have a player in Nashville? Decide for yourself, but it's shortsighted to think Columbus fans will tune in exclusively to see -- excuse me while I confirm which of the last-place Blue Jackets got the nod -- Brandon Saad play 3-on-3 for an afternoon. Actually, they should have added Seth Jones as the Blue Jackets' player. He knows the way to the rink in Nashville. But I digress. At the end of the day, commissioner Gary Bettman believes having a representative from each team is important, which is why Saad is going and Crosby is not. And you have to believe, Pierre, that Crosby withdrawing at the last minute last season was a factor in hockey ops deciding to go with Malkin and Kris Letang from the Penguins. I also get that the hometown team is going to be well-represented at the event. That's life. But Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (.907 save pct., 2.43 GAA) hasn't been himself this season and having him there means Chicago counterpart Corey Crawford (.925 save pct., 2.22 GAA) gets snubbed. But maybe the NHL is crazy like a fox. Here we are four weeks out from the event, and we're talking it up like crazy, so perhaps this deeply-flawed event is deeply flawed by design.
@ESPNJoeyMac: Guys, there are so many things wrong with the All-Star Game that I don't know where to begin. I'm all about celebrating hockey, but there has to be a better way of doing it than a 3-on-3 tournament format, which I'm sure all the players love, especially the goaltenders (not really). The only thing to celebrate this time around is that the game is being played in Nashville. I'm sure the players participating will treat it like a mini-vacation and enjoy the sights and sounds of Music City. Speaking of vacations, I doubt those players who were snubbed, including Crosby, would rather have the time off and enjoy the brief hiatus away from the game in some island destination. The Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom, who was named to his first All-Star Game on Wednesday, wasn't jumping for joy over the announcement. He described it as an honor, but I'm willing to bet he would rather have the time off.
@CraigCustance: Considering that I wrote a story on the day the rosters were announced about the Norris Trophy candidacy of Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter, he'd be the guy I would highlight as the biggest snub. I think Suter has been the best all-around defenseman in the league this season. There should have been a place for him in this game, and it would have been another interesting storyline with Suter returning to Nashville, where he started his NHL career. I think he would have embraced that opportunity, but also knew it wasn't going to be easy to make this roster considering the Predators' defense was going to be so well-represented. The problem with complaining about snubs is that you have to remove somebody who probably deserves a spot. I might prefer Suter instead of Shea Weber of the Predators as an All-Star, but do I really want to eliminate Weber from the hardest shot competition in Nashville? Nope.
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