Habs dominate all-star East voting
Reigning MVP Ovechkin snubbed for starting spot
Canadiens fans at the 2009 NHL all-star game in Montreal will see a bunch of familiar faces when the puck drops on Jan. 25.
The host Montreal Canadiens filled four of the six starting roster spots for the Eastern Conference, the NHL announced Saturday.
Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin prevented a Habs roster sweep by breaking the record for number of votes and clinching two forward positions.
Montreal's Alexei Kovalev will join their line, while teammates Andrei Markov and Mike Komisarek will start on defence and Habs netminder Carey Price will start in net.
"In three weeks, the world's greatest players will come here, to one of the world's great hockey cities, to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Montreal Canadiens," former Canadiens star Jean Beliveau said in announcing the rosters.
"I had the pleasure of playing in 13 all-star games and I can tell you it was an absolute honour. I look forward to watching the stars of today."
Conspicuously absent from the starting lineup is Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin. The reigning NHL most valuable player is enjoying another superb season, trailing only Malkin in the points race. Ovechkin sits just one goal back of Philadelphia's Jeff Carter — also snubbed for a starting spot — for the league lead in that department.
"It's dumb," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said, adding: "It's not right the best player in the game is not a starter."
For the Western Conference, teammates Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks led the voting, with Kane ahead by 100,000 votes.
Joining them on forward will be Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf, with Chicago's Brian Campbell and Anaheim's Scott Niedermayer on defence and teammate Jean-Sebastien Giguere in net.
At one point during the voting, Habs players led the way for all six of the East's starting positions. There was suspicion that Montreal fans may have boosted their team's totals by using a computer program that sent votes in automatically via the NHL's website.
A single team has never accounted for all six starting spots on an all-star squad.
Perhaps due to the increased popularity of internet voting, all six starters and five other East players broke former Penguins star Jaromir Jagr's previous all-time vote record from 2000 of 1,020,736.
Crosby led all voting for the third straight season with 1,713,021 votes.
With files from the Associated Press