By: Nathan Anderson | Follow me on Twitter @nathandrsn
As we near the halfway point for the 2022/2023 season, it’s time to start thinking about this season’s All-Star Game held in Sunrise, Florida, and hosted by the Florida Panthers. As one of the league’s top teams, the Bruins should be well-represented down south, so I want to explore who I believe has the best shot to represent our favorite team in early February.
Unfortunately, every team in the NHL has to be represented. Since there are only 11 spots available on the Atlantic Division team, that means that only four Bruins players can make the team if no other team has multiple participants. I think it’s safer to assume that at least one other team will have multiple participants, so I’ll put forward three players I think deserve to make the All-Star Game this season.
I think it’s pretty safe to assume that Linus Ullmark will be one of the two goaltenders playing for the Atlantic Division. He is at the top of the NHL leaderboards in the three major goaltending categories: wins, goals-against average, and save percentage. He’s the number-one goalie for one of the best teams in the league and has been an integral part of the Bruins’ success so far.
This could be Ullmark’s first All-Star Game appearance if he is selected. Of all the potential candidates to receive this honor, he seems to me to be one of the easiest to predict. He may even have a shot at being the Atlantic Division captain at the event, a title previously earned by David Pastrnak, our next nominee.
David Pastrnak has been the Bruins’ most dangerous and dynamic scoring threat for a few years now, but this season he seems to have regained the dominance that he showed in the COVID-shortened season in 2019/2020. As of writing this, he trails only Nikita Kucherov and Tage Thompson in points scored by a player in the Atlantic Division.
He’s on pace to be well over a point-per-game player this season and has shown an ability to create something out of nothing on the rare occasion that the Bruins find themselves struggling. After being selected as the captain of the Atlantic Division in 2020, I would not be surprised at all if Pasta was selected again as the captain this season. He should be a lock to represent the Bruins in Florida as long as he’s healthy.
I don’t know if the Bruins will have three representatives at the All-Star Game. It certainly can happen; the Tampa Bay Lightning had three representatives last season, but it was because Steven Stamkos won the “last man in” vote. For that reason, I’m going to put forward two players here. One of them is the guy I think deserves it the most, and the other is the guy I think is more likely to win a “last man in” vote if it comes to that.
First is Hampus Lindholm. It’s tough to accurately measure how important Lindholm has been to this team this season. He is a truly elite two-way defenseman who carried the back end of the team while we eagerly waited for Charlie McAvoy to come back. If this team makes a deep run this season, he’ll be right at the front leading the charge.
He’s also chipped in quite a bit offensively, leading the Bruins in scoring by a defenseman, just ahead of Charlie McAvoy. While he’s not necessarily pushing for the NHL lead in points by a defenseman, his two-way prowess should not be ignored.
The guy I think is more likely to win a run-off-style vote is Patrice Bergeron. If it weren’t for the outstanding season by Pastrnak, Bergeron easily could have a case to be an All-Star as the Bruins’ representative. As things are, I think Bergeron winning the fan vote as the final selection is the most likely way the Bruins will get three representatives.
Not only has Bergeron contributed significantly offensively, defensively, and with his leadership, he’s also one of the most well-respected guys in the league. That would benefit him in a fan vote by potentially gaining votes from fans of teams that are not in the Atlantic Division who need to make a selection just to fill out their ballot. If he does get in, it will be fully deserved, but it certainly isn’t a guarantee.
There are other guys I’d love to see at the All-Star Game for the Bruins, but based on the restrictions in place, I think these are the four that have a decent chance of being selected. I wouldn’t be surprised if Taylor Hall or Brad Marchand slide into the “last man” vote depending on their production over the next few weeks. Personally, I’d love to see Jake DeBrusk get recognized for his solid play this season, but I think it would take an injury or two for him to sneak in, and I never want to root for that.