Sports Illustrated's NHL Midseason Report (out Jan. 21) contains the magazine's own starting lineups for Sunday's NHL All-Star Game in Montreal. Its Eastern Conference lineup has only one Canadien (four were voted in by fans) and is matched against an unheralded goalie and his single-Wing offense:
G, Tim Thomas, Bruins: He and Boston goalie 1A, Manny Fernandez, have dazzling save percentages (.935 and .928 respectively) and goals -gainst averages (2.04 and 2.07). Thomas has played six more games.
D, Zdeno Chara, Bruins: Recovered from the shoulder injury that made him a nonfactor in the 2008 postseason, the Big Z is playing big minutes (26:21 a game) with a flair worthy of Norris Trophy consideration.
D, Andrei Markov, Canadiens: Like Chara, Markov plays against top lines while generating offense with a hard shot and clever cross-seam passes. His performance at left point has lifted Montreal’s power play.
C, Evgeni Malkin, Penguins: The NHL’s most reliable point producer (1.5 per game), he’s a healthy +14 and the perfect complement to Sidney Crosby, who chips in an excellent average of 1.3 points.
LW, Alexander Ovechkin, Capitals: Probably en route to his second straight MVP, he is the league’s most entertaining player. He leads in shots (6.5 per game), is second in goals (27), and seventh in hits (148).
RW, Alexander Semin, Capitals: Despite missing 18 games with a side-muscle injury, Semin, a top-line bookend with Ovechkin, has been a dynamo with his whiplike shots, producing 16 goals and 36 points.
G, Steve Mason, Blue Jackets: The rookie will not play in the Young Stars Game, nor the feature event, on the advice of team doctors. Pity. He leads the NHL in goals-against average (1.99) and shutouts (6) despite a so-so defense.
D, Dan Boyle, Sharks: A strong puck mover, Boyle, acquired from Tampa Bay last July, has clicked with San Jose’s top forwards. He leads NHL defensemen with 34 points and quarterbacks a potent power play.
D, Shea Weber, Predators: The team scratches for goals but Weber’s blasts from the point have been a saving grace. He also throws earth-moving bodychecks and makes crisp passes out of his zone.
C, Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings: He’s always been an offensive wizard, a guy who could stickhandle in a phone booth, and his defensive play separates him from San Jose’s Joe Thornton and Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf.
LW, Patrick Marleau, Sharks: A natural center with big man’s size (6'???2", 220) and small man’s speed, the 29-year-old is thriving in his first season as a full-time winger (46 points).
RW, Jarome Iginla, Flames: Calgary’s tone-setter is unstoppable near the net, and his laser shot also allows him to score from almost anywhere. At 31, Iginla remains the league’s most complete forward.
Agree with SI's picks? Disagree? Fire away.