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.
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
-- 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
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
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,
of the Atlanta Thrashers (34 goals) and Washington's
-- 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.