Ovechkin joins NHL East All-Stars as reserve
NEW YORK -- Alexander Ovechkin's big week got even better Friday when the super scorer received his second straight selection to the NHL All-Star Game.
2007-08 NHL All-Star Team
The All-Star Game starters were decided by fan voting. The reserves were chosen by the league's hockey operations department, in consultation with the teams' general managers. All-Star weekend festivities will be Jan. 25-27 in Atlanta.
|*Henrik Zetterberg||F||Red Wings|
|*Pavel Datsyuk||F||Red Wings|
|*Nicklas Lidstrom||D||Red Wings|
|* +Roberto Luongo||G||Canucks|
|Rick Nash||F||Blue Jackets|
|Chris Osgood||G||Red Wings|
|Martin St. Louis||F||Lightning|
|Tomas Kaberle||D||Maple Leafs|
|+ Opting not to play.|
The Washington Capitals star, who agreed to a 13-year, $124 million contract extension with the club on Thursday, was one of 15 players chosen to fill out the Eastern Conference roster. The 22-year-old Russian made his All-Star debut last year in Dallas and figures to be a staple in the midseason exhibition for years to come.
He scored 52 goals in his rookie season and followed that with a 46-goal effort last season. Now with 32 goals, he is second to Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk, also chosen for the East squad. Kovalchuk has 36 goals.
Ovechkin might as well get to know New York Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro and fellow forward Mike Richards of Philadelphia, a pair of first-time All-Stars who beat him to the punch in signing landmark long-term deals.
This trio could be headlining the Eastern Conference squad for the better part of a decade. For now, they will set their sights on this year's game to be played Jan. 27 in Atlanta.
"It's an honor to be named with some of the guys who have been selected," Richards said. "I haven't been involved in an All-Star weekend at any level."
DiPietro, who signed a 15-year, $67.5 million deal before the 2006-07 season, entered play Friday with 16 wins and a 2.52 goals-against average. He made his first All-Star team in his sixth season, eight years after becoming the first goalie chosen with the No. 1 pick in the NHL draft.
"I was in shock," he said. "Finally to compete in an All-Star game is going to be pretty surreal."
Richards has 19 goals and 47 points in 41 games, prompting the Flyers to reward him with a 12-year, $69-million contract extension last month. He got the nod over Flyers teammate Daniel Briere.
"If there is somebody that deserves it, it's him," Briere said. "He has definitely been our best player in the first half of the year."
The full Western squad announced Thursday featured seven first-timers, chosen by the NHL's hockey operations department in consultation with the league's 30 general managers.
Of the 21 players on the East team, 12 took part in last year's game.
Spezza will be joined by returnee Dany Heatley, his Ottawa linemate, who was the All-Star MVP when he scored four goals in the 2003 game. The third member of the high-flying line, Daniel Alfredsson, will be a starter.
If Senators coach John Paddock, who will run the East bench, puts them together they would become the first forward line from the same team to skate as a unit in the All-Star Game since Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and Kevin Stevens did it in 1992.
There will also be intrigue in Atlanta if Heatley and Kovalchuk play together. They were linemates with the hometown Thrashers during the 2001-02 season and finished 1-2 in rookie of the year voting, with Heatley capturing the award.
Hossa was traded to Atlanta in 2005 in the deal that sent Heatley to Ottawa.
They will have Vokoun's former Predators teammate Kimmo Timonen of Philadelphia protecting them on defense along with Buffalo's Brian Campbell, Sergei Gonchar of Pittsburgh, and Toronto's Tomas Kaberle.
Zdeno Chara of Boston will start on the blue line alongside Markov as determined by fan balloting.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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