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Three Habs among All-Star nominees

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
Cristobal Huet could be headed to his second straight All-Star Game.
MONTREAL - The NHL announced the nominees the All-Star Fan Balloting for the 56th All-Star Game to be held in Atlanta in January and Saku Koivu, Cristobal Huet and Andrei Markov all made the list.

Voting begins Nov. 13 and runs through Jan. 2, during which time fans will have the opportunity to select six players per conference in the form of three forwards, two defensemen and a goaltender.  Those selected will make up each conference’s starting lineup.

After registering his first shutout of the season on Monday, Cristobal Huet wasn’t concentrating on his nomination too much, just under three months before the event.

“You’re always grateful when these things happen,” admitted Huet following Tuesday’s optional skate.  “I just try and compete and I think the league sees that.  The team is playing well defensively and that makes me look good.”

The French netminder could be on his way to a second consecutive All-Star appearance after representing the Canadiens last season in Dallas along with Sheldon Souray.  But should he be packing his bags again come January, it’ll be all thanks to the fans.

“No, I don’t have any plans to bump my numbers up,” said a laughing Huet.  “I know there are lots of fans here and in France that will be up to the task.”

Saku Koivu made his All-Star debut back in 1998.
Fans could send Koivu  to his third NHL All-Star Game, having also been chosen back in 1997-98 and 2002-03.  While he participated in the star-studded event in 1998, he had to withdraw in 2003 due to injury.  The Canadiens captain had a career year in 2006-07 amassing 74 points. He hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down this season, with 14 points in as many games and a plus-5 differential.

While a potential All-Star appearance would be the first of Markov’s career, the nomination is far from a surprise.  The Habs’ No. 79 leads all defensemen in scoring with 13 points in 14 games.  Just like Koivu, the Russian blueliner hit a career high in 2006-07 with 49 points.

The Ottawa Senators lead the way in fan balloting in the Eastern Conference this year as Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley, Daniel Alfredsson, Chris Philips, Wade Redden and Ray Emery were all included in the nominations.

The popular skills competition will take place on Saturday, January 26, 2008 while the All-Star Game goes on Sunday, January 27.

Félix-Antoine Viens is a writer for  Translated by Heather Engel.
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