Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Buffalo Sabres All-Star Team

Who do you think was left off the All-Star ballot that should be there and why?
Who are you going to vote for that is on the ballot?

I voted twice so far. The first time I voted for all the Sabres on the ballot (Maxim Afinogenov, Daniel Briere, Chris Drury, Brian Campbell, Henrik Tallinder, Ryan Miller) and cast a write-in vote for Thomas Vanek.

The second time I kept my votes for Campbell and Tallinder. I think they're both a stretch to make the team, atleast as starters, because of a lack of name recognition, but to me, the defensemen are the unsung heroes of Buffalo's team. Tallinder doesn't get a lot of attention outside of Buffalo because he doesn't generate a lot of offense (although I think he has a nice scoring touch and could be more offensive if called upon), but he's the guy who goes up against the opposition's top line and more often than not, he gives them fits. He's a fast, graceful skater, he's strong, he has an amazing reach, and like all Buffalo defensemen he makes those beautiful outlet passes. The fact that he's on the ice with the other team's big guns makes his +10 even more impressive than it already is. I really think it was his injury that affected the team the most in the post-season last year. And Campbell, geez! Where to even begin? At the beginning of last season there were plenty of people who would've traded him for a bag of pucks, but he has totally blossomed over the past couple of seasons. To me he's the prototypical defensemen for the new NHL. He's a great skater (he skates backward better than some guys skate forward), he can handle the puck like a forward, he knows when to pinch and join the rush, he's almost always in good position and when he isn't, he's fast enough to compensate. He's not very big but he's stronger than he looks and positions himself well in relation to the puck and the opposition. He's currently in the top ten for defensemen in points and assists and is second only to Nicklas Lidstrom in +/-. Yeah, I love my defensemen.

I also voted for Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Brendan Shanahan, and Kari Lehtonen. I don't really know how Lehtonen's season has been as a whole so far, but I was super impressed with him in Atlanta's game here in Buffalo.

In the West I voted for Ryan Smyth, Ales Hemsky, Henrik Sedin, Scott Niedermayer, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Marty Turco. I haven't seen a ton of Western Conference games so I will admit there's more "Oh, yeah I like him" going on there.

While I hate to complain that any Sabres were overlooked I really think Thomas Vanek should've been on the ballot. If you made me choose, I'd probably vote for him over Drury at this point. He's off to a great start and is another young Sabre who has really blossomed over the last year or so. He leads all forwards with a +16 and is the only player with double digit goals (11) and a double digit +/-. That's amazing since he was benched during the playoffs for being lazy defensively.

I'm going to vote a few more times I think. I'd like to get Max on the team so he can participate in the fastest man competition - that boy can fly. I'll admit that I'm going to be a total homer for the most part this year but I will comfort myself with the knowledge that many of my guys are worthy. It's been a while since that happened in Buffalo, you know? Gotta take advantage of it while I can.

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