WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 11: Evgeni Malkin #71 of the Pittsburgh Penguins brings the puck up the ice against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center on January 11, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
One is the loneliest number. And it's also the number of Pittsburgh Penguins selected to participate in the NHL All-Star Game on Jan. 29 in Ottawa.
The honor was bestowed upon Evgeni Malkin, who is eighth in the league in scoring with 45 points in 35 games.
To be fair, Malkin was the only Penguin who clearly warranted selection.
Kris Letang came out of the gates firing at the start of the season and, if he had kept his pace up, would have been a shoe-in for a selection. But he got hurt. Same goes for Sidney Crosby. Had he continued to produce at the impressive clip he started out at, no one would've denied him a selection even in an injury shortened season.
Marc-Andre Fleury remotely resembles a snub. Fleury's been strong, but not quite strong enough to crack the lineup of the six goalies who were selected. Except maybe for Carey Price. But Mike Smith makes an even better argument than Fleury, so there's that.
And then there's James Neal.
Neal's pace has cooled a little in recent weeks (blame his injury and the team's injuries), but he's still fifth in the leaugh in goal-scoring. His 36 points are tied for 30th with five other players: Jarome Iginla, Matt Moulson, Ray Whitney, Johan Franzen and Patrice Bergeron. Only Iginla earned a selection.
Corey Perry was selected and actually has one fewer point, fewer goals, a poor plus/minus and plays like a troll.
But then that reminds you of Teemu Selanne, a living legend and Perry's teammate. Selanne has outperformed Perry all season and has six more points to his name. At 41, he's symmetrically played 41 games this season and scored 41 points. Because he's awesome.
And they're taking Perry instead. At least he kills penalties occasionally.
You'll never hear me complain about Mikko Koviu's selection despite not being an elite point machine. His 33 points in 39 games is solid, but he's a wonderful two-way player and a nice penalty killer. Better than Perry in that regard.
So, you know that at least intangibles are coming into play here.
Which explains why Alexander Ovechkin was selected. He of 33 points in 41 games (nine behind teammate Nicklas Backstrom, who isn't going) and plummeting production. He kills penalties (averages one second a game, 1:05 less than Backstrom) or leads by example or something, right? Or scores in the clutch (he has one game-winning goal, three less than Backstrom)?
Okay. I'm spent. And I didn't even get into Logan Couture. I'll blame personal biases for not doing that.
Teams will be selected via draft on Jan. 26.
Update: Of course, I could be totally wrong on the Selanne thing.