Crosby top vote-getter, Red Wings with three in starting lineup
NEW YORK -- The Detroit Red Wings dominated the first half of the NHL season. Now they're taking over the All-Star Game, too.
Sidney Crosby is starting to do the same.
NHL All-Star Starters
Starters, as voted by fans, for the NHL All-Star Game to be played Jan. 27 in Atlanta:
Crosby, the 20-year-old reigning NHL MVP, topped All-Star voting for the second straight year and will start again for the Eastern Conference, the league announced Tuesday.
Detroit placed three players in the All-Star starting lineup, matching the Buffalo Sabres, who did it last season for the East en route to their first Presidents' Trophy.
Lidstrom, who received 477,787 votes, will partner with Calgary Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf on the blue line while Jarome Iginla -- also of the Flames -- plays up front with Zetterberg and Datsyuk.
"You're used to playing against the top players -- now, you're playing with them," Lidstrom said. "So that's always fun."
Zetterberg and Datsyuk are among eight first-time All-Star starters. Iginla and Phaneuf, who have helped Calgary take over first place in the Northwest Division, are also set to make their initial starts in the midseason game.
Vancouver's Roberto Luongo got the starting nod in goal for the West.
Crosby, who entered Tuesday ranked fourth in the NHL with 57 points, got the most votes again but earned 318,509 fewer votes -- a 39 percent drop -- than he garnered for the 2007 game in Dallas when approximately 28 million ballots were cast.
Last year, Crosby at 19 years, five months, became the youngest player voted into the starting lineup since fan balloting began in 1986. He went on to be the NHL's youngest scoring champion with 120 points.
His linemates in Atlanta will be current scoring leader Vincent Lecavalier of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Ottawa Senators right winger Daniel Alfredsson, who both will be making their first All-Star starts. Lecavalier is going to his third All-Star game, while Alfredsson will play in his fifth.
"The first time, I was young and I was nervous being with all these older guys," the 27-year-old Lecavalier said. "To be voted on there is special. I never thought I'd go in like that. I'm the old guy now."
On defense will be fellow first-time starters Andrei Markov of the Montreal Canadiens and Boston's Zdeno Chara. Markov is the only starter making his first All-Star appearance. Chara is going for the third time.
New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur was elected for the fourth time and will take part in his 10th All-Star game, tying Lidstrom for the most among this year's starters. Lidstrom is in the starting lineup for the eighth time.
"It is more of a recognition, no question, but I don't know if it means more," Alfredsson said of his starting assignment. "All-Star weekend is a lot of fun no matter how you get into it."
Surprisingly, the league's top two goal scorers, Ilya Kovalchuk of the Atlanta Thrashers (34 goals) and Washington's Alex Ovechkin -- tied with Iginla with 32 -- weren't elected to start for the East. Ovechkin was fifth in votes among forwards with 177,574, while Kovalchuk came in sixth with 173,629.
"This league is really young," Lecavalier said. "The last time I went to the All-Star game all these young guys that were in the room, it was unbelievable. It's great to see. There is great future in the NHL with guys like Sidney and Ovechkin."
Lecavalier and Crosby are both centers, but there was no doubt in Lecavalier's mind who will take that spot in Atlanta.
"I'll go on the left wing," he said with a laugh.
It is only fitting that Red Wings make up half the West's starting lineup since Detroit is running away with the Central Division and has a commanding edge in the race for home-ice advantage throughout the conference playoffs.
Detroit entered play Tuesday with a mark of 32-8-3 and 67 points, 15 more than Dallas and nine in front of Ottawa in the Presidents' Trophy chase. The Red Wings became the first NHL team to win 30 games in the first half of the season when they beat the Stars last Wednesday.
"I always dreamed about playing in the NHL, but the more you play, the hungrier you get," Datsyuk said. "You want to be an All-Star and you want to win the Stanley Cup."
Zetterberg was chosen to his second All-Star team, but sat out last year due to an injury. Phaneuf and Datsyuk are also All-Stars for the second time, and Iginla will play in his fourth.
"We have enough pressure on us during the regular season and so for those few days, I'm just going to go down there and relax," Zetterberg said. "It's going to be exciting."
Luongo was voted to the West starting lineup for the second straight season following his trade from Florida to Vancouver in 2006, and will be an All-Star for the third time.
This marked the 20th year that fans determined the starting lineups for the NHL All-Star game. Voting took place online and by cell phone only for the second straight season.
Western Conference reserves, chosen by the NHL's hockey operations department along with general managers, will be announced Thursday. The rest of the Eastern Conference roster will be revealed Friday.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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