Avalanche center Paul Stastny makes first All-Star team

Updated: January 10, 2008, 4:20 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- Just when Paul Stastny thought nothing was going his way, something did.

The Colorado Avalanche second-year center was named to his first Western Conference All-Star team Thursday.

"It's great. It's always exciting when it's the first time for anything," Stastny said in a conference call.

Now if he could only snap his goal-scoring funk. He's gone 10 games without finding the net -- the longest stretch of his career. Yet he still leads the Avalanche in scoring with 44 points.

"It's frustrating at times," said Stastny, who has 15 goals and 29 assists this season. "It's a mental game."

With his selection, Stastny and his dad, Peter, become just the seventh father-son tandem chosen for separate All-Star teams. Stastny hasn't had a chance to talk to his father yet, who's currently in Europe.

"I'm sure he'll be excited for me," said Stastny, whose father made six All-Star appearances in his 15-year career. "He's always more excited than I am."

Paul Stastny will need quite a string to help him and his dad catch Mark and Gordie Howe, who appeared in a combined 17 All-Star appearances. Second on the list are Brett and Bobby Hull, who appeared in 20.

Stastny was elated just to make his first All-Star game, which will take place Jan. 27 in Atlanta. He's also scheduled to participate in the NHL All-Star Skills competition on the day before.

"Hopefully, I can soak it up and enjoy it as much as I can," he said.

Stastny is a little awed by how fast he's caught on in the NHL. As a rookie last season, he finished with 78 points and was runner-up for the league's top rookie award, losing out to Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin. Stastny also set an NHL rookie record with a 20-game scoring streak.

"I never expect too much," said Stastny, who had a standout career at the University of Denver before being selected by Colorado in the second round of the 2005 entry draft. "I just try to go out there and be the best I can be. Sometimes, things are going really well. Sometimes, they're down."

He's going through a lean stretch right now. Stastny hasn't scored a goal since his game-winner Dec. 17 against the Los Angeles Kings.

He's far from the only Avalanche player in a cold spell. Milan Hejduk has now gone eight games without a goal and Andrew Brunette has only one goal in his last 17 contests.

"Everyone is gripping the stick a little tighter," said Stastny, whose team is 1-5-1 over its last seven games. "We can't get any bounces to go in right now."

The Avalanche are missing quite a bit of offensive punch with injuries to forward Ryan Smyth (broken ankle) and captain Joe Sakic (hernia). Neither is expected back for close to two months.

"You try to pick up the slack," Stastny said. "It would be nice to have them. If we use them as an excuse, we'll be out of the race real quick.

"What we're trying to do is keep battling -- bear down harder," Stastny added. "We can't moan about it."

Stastny said he's not letting his goal drought weigh on him. He'll simply do what he's always done -- work harder. He's staying late after practice to sharpen his touch around the net.

"You can't let it get to your head," Stastny said. "It happens to everyone. Sometimes, you feel like nothing is going your way. Eventually, it's going to turn around."

He laughed.

"The sooner the better," Stastny said.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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