Last season, Tim Thomas made the All-Star Game for the first time as a late addition, earning a roster spot when New Jersey's Martin Brodeur pulled out, citing personal reasons.
This season, Thomas wasn't even on the All-Star ballot. But yesterday, the NHL announced that Thomas, Zdeno Chara, and Marc Savard will be going to Montreal for the All-Star Game Jan. 25. The three played in last year's game in Atlanta, all making significant impacts during All-Star weekend. Thomas earned the win with his third-period performance, Savard scored the deciding goal at 19:39 of the third period of the East's 8-7 win, and Chara won the hardest shot competition (103.1 miles per hour) for the second straight year.
"It's quite an honor," said Thomas (16-4-3, 2.13 goals-against average, .932 save percentage). "Apparently, like my style, I get picked in unconventional ways. This year, not being on the ballot but making it is awesome. I wasn't even in the NHL when I was 30."
Unconventional is an accurate description of the NHL's selection process, which was made more difficult because four Canadiens - goalie Carey Price, defensemen Andrei Markov and Mike Komisarek, and forward Alex Kovalev - were voted as starters. Facing that challenge and the task of selecting at least one player from every club, there were some omissions, including three Bruins: Manny Fernandez (14-3-1, 2.07 GAA, .928 save percentage), Phil Kessel (24 goals), and Dennis Wideman (plus-24).
Chara, an All-Star starter last season, will be making his fourth appearance. He has recorded a 7-15 -22 line and a plus-19 rating while playing some of his sharpest shutdown hockey against some of the league's most dangerous attackers.
"He shuts down those guys extremely well, and that, to us, is what makes him one of the best D's in the league," said coach Claude Julien, who will be behind the Eastern Conference bench at Bell Centre. "Whether it's through strength, whether it's through his play, whether he's got a good stick, he plays in all situations. He's always 25 to 30 minutes per game."
Although Kessel could be added to the team as an injury replacement, the third-year winger stands to lose out on a $212,500 bonus if he doesn't make the team. However, Kessel has already earned one $212,500 bonus this season for scoring 20 goals, and is on pace to hit the $850,000 maximum in Individual A bonuses. Kessel is due $212,500 for each of the following: recording 35 assists; scoring 60 points; recording 0.73 points per game; finishing among the top three Boston forwards in plus-minus; or finishing among the top six forwards on the team in ice time.
Kessel can also earn $500,000 in Individual B bonuses by winning a major year-end award (Hart, Richard, Selke). Because this is the final year of Kessel's entry-level contract, he will not be eligible for performance bonuses in his next deal.
It was the first game Lucic, who was injured against Minnesota Tuesday, missed this season. Hnidy, struck in the face by a deflected puck Tuesday, was kept off the ice by team doctors.
"Once the doctors make those decisions, there's no ifs or buts," said Julien. "As a coach, I'll never challenge that. We all know he got the puck just above the eye. There's a danger of him playing."
Ward skated 20 shifts for 20:06 of ice time, scoring the game's first goal and finishing with a plus-3 rating.
"If you look at our back end, there were some players who were having tough nights," said Julien. "It was nice to have his experience back there."