The starting line-ups have been announced for the 2012 KHL All-Star Game, and there's a distinct lack of star power in this season's starting line-up. While both Sergei Fedorov and Sandis Ozolinsh will be captaining this year's squads, the normal names we were used to seeing in the game are no longer there. No Yashin, no Morozov, and no Jagr are the most notable absences, but we have our starters picked thanks to the online voting done by fans.
Forward: Aleksey Kalyuzhny of Avangard Omsk - 22GP, 6G, 10A
Forward: Jakub Petružálek of Amur Khabarovsk - 33GP, 15G, 19A
Defence: Ilya Nikulin of Ak Bars Kazan - 31GP, 6G, 7A
Defence: Mikko Maenpaa of Amur Khabarovsk - 30GP, 7G, 14A
Goalie: Mikhail Biryukov of Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk - 9-9-4, 2.40 GAA
Forward: Vadim Shipachev of Severstal Cherepovets - 31GP, 14G, 26A
Forward: Geoff Platt of Dinamo Minsk - 33GP, 10G, 15A
Defence: Jere Karalahti of Dinamo Minsk - 33GP, 5G, 4A
Defence: Maxim Chudinov of Severstal Cherepovets - 31GP, 8G, 15A
Goalie: Konstantin Barulin of Atlant Moscow - 12-6-5, 2.13 GAA
On paper, Ozolinsh's team looks pretty good. Better goaltending and better scoring would lead the way, but the game isn't played on paper. Ironically, there are a number of players who would be better representatives of "all-stars" than the players voted in by the fans.
Michael Garnett of Traktor Chelyabinsk is the top goaltender with an 18-6-3 record and a sparkling 2.02 GAA. Kevin Dallman of Barys Astana is the top scoring defenceman with eight goals and 23 assists in 32 games. Tony Martensson of SKA St. Petersburg is second in league scoring with 13 goals and 23 assists in 31 games. Alexander Radulov of Salavat Yulaev Ufa is third in league scoring with 14 goals and 21 assists in 30 games. None of these players, however, are starters in the KHL All-Star Game. While I'm not going to slight the fans on this one, I'm quite certain all of these players will play in the game based on stats alone. It is curious, however, that none of them were voted in as starters.
In any case, the starting line-ups will feature a four-time KHL All-Star in defenceman Ilya Nikulin. He's been to the All-Star Game in each of the four seasons of play that the KHL has held, so he's clearly a popular player with the fans as he's been voted into the starting line-up for the last three seasons. This is why the fan voting is a good feature: the players that the fans like are voted into the game regardless of their stats.
The starters have been set, and we have just five weeks before the best of the best in the KHL play in Riga, Latvia. I'm already looking forward to the event!
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!