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Jones, Korpisalo deserving of their All-Star bids

Defenseman named to team yet again, while goalie to sit out because of injury

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider /

Joonas Korpisalo found out he made the All-Star team in perhaps the most interesting of ways. 

The NHL announced All-Star teams Dec. 30, which just so happened to be one day after Korpisalo left the Blue Jackets' shootout loss vs. Chicago with a knee injury that required surgery. 

The doctor had an opening that Monday, the day after the injury, so Korpisalo immediately went under the knife. As Korpisalo came to, he asked for his phone and, well, we'll let him take over from here. 

"I woke up from the surgery and was kind of hazy and foggy," he said. "I just woke up and was like, 'Can I get my phone?' They were like, 'No social media,' because some people get so messed up from the surgery, they put some stupid stuff out there. I was like, 'Yeah, no worries. I feel fine.' But my eyes were kind of (sideways), and I see all the messages like, 'Congrats!' I was like, 'Are they congratulating me on a successful surgery? What's going on?' 

Then I saw the text from (general manager Jarmo Kekalainen). He was like, 'You're an All-Star and I'm proud of you,' and I'm like, 'Oh, wow. This happened right now.' That was a pleasant surprise in a moment when I really felt down, getting injured, and was in a really bad spot. That was weird, like, 'Am I dreaming?'" 

Korpisalo was not dreaming, but it's still, of course, not an ideal situation for the goaltender. While his performance over the first half of the season was worthy of him earning his first career All-Star nod, he continues to rehab from that knee injury and will not be able to participate in the festivities in St. Louis. 

The Blue Jackets will still be represented by Seth Jones, the standout defenseman who has been named to the team four times and will make his third appearance in the game.  

"I'm excited for sure," he said. "Anytime you're on the ice with 40-50 of the best players around the league and get to share that experience with them, it's great. My family will be there -- my mom and grandma. It should be a lot of fun." 

Video: NHL All-Star Media Day in St. Louis

With the Blue Jackets now on their All-Star break -- Wednesday's game vs. Winnipeg will be the team's last until Feb. 1 at Buffalo -- all eyes turn toward the annual celebration in St. Louis. The annual skills competition will take place Friday night with Jones taking part in the hardest shot contest; then Jones will participate in the inaugural Chel Gaming Challenge on Saturday afternoon, and the 3-on-3 All-Star tournament kicks off Saturday evening around 8 p.m. 

Below are summaries of how each Blue Jacket made it to St. Louis and earned their way to be considered among the best of the best in the NHL this season. 

Seth Jones 

Age: 25 

Home: Arlington, Texas 

Previous All-Star appearances: Jones has been selected for each of the past four All-Star Games, though he did not play two seasons ago while dealing with illness. He's been a dominant player in a 3-on-3 setup that makes great use of his size, skating ability and scoring touch, notching a 2-2-4 line last year and scoring two goals in 2017 as the Metropolitan Division won each time.  

Why he's an All-Star: Considering Jones finished fourth in the Norris Trophy voting two seasons ago and ninth a year ago, it's no surprise the seventh-year veteran is viewed among the elite defensemen in the National Hockey League. Respected as a player who is complete in both zones, Jones has to this point played in every game this season and amassed five goals and 23 assists for 28 points while going plus-9. He averages 25:22 of ice time, sixth in the NHL, and matches up against the best the opposition has to offer each night. Though both Jones and his coach say there's more in the blueliner's tank this season, he's still the kind of high-level defenseman every team in the league covets. 

Seth says: "It's obviously a huge honor once again to have my name in that conversation, being up there with some of the great players in this league. I probably for the most part haven't played my most consistent hockey in the first half of the season, but it's still pretty cool to be there. I kind of had a slow start to the season for me, but I think I've gotten a little more consistent out there the past few weeks in every aspect of the game really." 

Torts says: "He's that good, and I think he can play better. I'm happy that he gets the nod there, but I think we both know, him and I, that I think he can play better. That shows how good he can be." 


Video: WPG@CBJ: Jones charges in, fires puck past Brossoit

Joonas Korpisalo 

Age: 25 

Home: Pori, Finland 

Previous All-Star appearances: After spending the past four seasons as Sergei Bobrovsky's backup, Korpisalo was chosen to make his first All-Star appearance. Unfortunately, the knee injury suffered Dec. 29 vs. Chicago will leave him unable to participate. 

Why he's an All-Star: Korpisalo had a bit of a rocky start to his first season as the CBJ starter, with a save percentage of .886 in his first 10 games after being pulled in a home loss to Edmonton on Oct. 30. But from the start of November until his injury, Korpisalo turned in a two-month span that was as good as any in the NHL. In 22 games, the Finn posted a 12-6-3 record, notched a .926 save percentage and had a 2.11 goals-against average, all elite numbers. He posted two shutouts in that span, including one against league-leading Washington, and gave up two goals or fewer in 15 of his 21 starts.  

Joonas says: "Obviously it's a great honor to get recognized there a little bit. Most of the (Blue Jackets' red-hot) run that got the attention there was because the team played really good. Since then, you can see after I got injured, we kept building and building. It's been great to see. But obviously it's a great honor. It's something I didn't expect really; it's kind of a surprise. It's great but tough not to get in there." 

Torts says: "It's well deserved. It sucks that he can't play. He has grown and grown and has turned into a really good goaltender as far as throughout the league, and being an All-Star is well deserved." 


Video: WSH@CBJ: Korpisalo records second shutout of season 

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