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Leaders hold heading into last week of balloting

by Dave Lozo
As fan balloting for the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game hits the homestretch, the first six players who will be chosen to play in the contest are still somewhat up in the air.

Toronto's Phil Kessel, Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson and Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby are the three leaders among forwards, but Ottawa's Jason Spezza is less than 5,000 votes behind Crosby, who has been sidelined due to a concussion.

On defense, Ottawa's Erik Karlsson and Toronto's Dion Phaneuf are far and away ahead of all other blueliners. Karlsson is second overall in votes, about 26,000 behind Kessel's 565,984 votes.

The battle at the goaltending position should go down to the wire. It's still Toronto's James Reimer leading the way, but Boston's Tim Thomas has trimmed the lead to about 5,000 votes.

Polls close Jan. 4, leaving fans about a week to register their last-minute votes.

More than 18 million votes have been cast so far, up 26 percent from all votes that were cast last year.

Among write-ins, goaltenders Jimmy Howard (161,661) of the Red Wings and Corey Crawford (80,650) of the Blackahwks and Bruins forward Tyler Seguin (103,771) have received the most support.

The Bruins have the most players on the leaderboard with nine; five teams have eight players among the leaders and four teams have seven.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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