January 22, 2008

To the front-runners go the spoils: This savvy lineup is a three-Wing circus

GRoberto Luongo, CanucksNo other goalie has had a greater impact: On a middling team, he ranked among the league's top four in save percentage, goals against and shutouts through Sunday.

DNicklas Lidstrom, Red WingsIf you were to build the complete modern defenseman, he would play a lot like Lidstrom. The 37-year-old Swede is on his way to his third straight Norris Trophy.

DSergei Zubov, StarsNot quite on Lidstrom's level in terms of hockey smarts, but you would find him at the same Mensa meeting. Zubov is the NHL's most underappreciated star.

CPavel Datsyuk, Red WingsWith 39 assists -- second in the conference -- and an array of dazzling moves, he is the West's most entertaining playmaker.

RWJarome Iginla, FlamesIn addition to a possible Hart Trophy, the NHL's premier power forward (32 goals, 31 assists) might be in line to win a Nobel prize for his work as a peacekeeper under coach Mike Keenan.

LWHenrik Zetterberg, Red WingsSundance to Datsyuk's Butch Cassidy, the silky Swede, on pace for career highs of 47 goals and 102 points, finishes almost everything that the Russian starts.

Thanks to a late-blossoming Lightning center, the starting six is missing a certain Sidney

GMartin Brodeur, DevilsAfter a slow start Mr. Indestructible -- he averages 72 starts a year -- had his team atop the Atlantic Division at week's end, and his 2.10 goals-against average led the conference.

DMike Komisarek, CanadiensThe combative blueliner had a league-high 150 blocked shots and was second in hits (160). He's the perfect complement to slick partner Andrei Markov.

DZdeno Chara, BruinsThe Big Z -- he's 6' 9", 251 pounds -- has been contributing points (seven goals, 25 assists) in addition to his formidable physical presence.

CVincent Lecavalier, LightningIn his ninth and strongest season, the powerful forward (right) had 64 points, best in the NHL, while averaging 23 minutes. Only he could have bumped Sidney Crosby.

RWDaniel Alfredsson,SenatorsOne of the league's most effective captains is having a career season with 29 goals, 31 assists and a +15 rating while leading Ottawa to the best record (30-14-4) in the conference.

LWAlexander Ovechkin, CapitalsEdges Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk. While each has more than 25% of his team's goals -- Kovalchuk, 37; Ovechkin, 36 -- Ovechkin is more complete. He was a +9 to Kovy's -13.

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