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Malkin, Sens, Blues lead All-Star players' poll

by Tal Pinchevsky

View All-Star players' poll results

First-Half MVP: Malkin 23; Giroux 7; Lundqvist 3; Datsyuk 2; Alfredsson 1; Toews 1; Hossa 1. Total: 38

Most Underrated: Timonen 4; Eriksson 3; Hansen 3; Hartnell 2; Benn 1; Nash 1; Pavelski 1; Kunitz 1; Kelly 1; Girardi 1; M. Koivu 1; Enstrom 1; R. O'Reilly 1; Backes 1; Garrisson 1; Filppula 1; Couture 1; Marleau 1; Parise 1; P. Bergeron 1; Anderson 1; None 9. Total: 29

Surprise Team: Ottawa Senators 13; St. Louis Blues 12; Florida Panthers 5; New York Rangers 2; Nashville Predators 2; Toronto Maple Leafs 1; Winnipeg Jets 1; Philadelphia Flyers 1; None 1. Total: 37
Heading into the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game, Penguins center Evgeni Malkin enjoyed a three-point cushion atop the list of NHL scoring leaders. So it's hardly surprising that his was one of the first names mentioned when players competing in the big game and rookies selected to take part in the Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Skills Competition were asked to choose a first-half MVP in an anonymous poll conducted by

Of 38 players polled, an impressive 23 selected Malkin as the League's top player thus far this season. With 60 percent of players polled choosing Malkin, Philadelphia's Claude Giroux came in a distant second with seven votes. New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk received three and two votes respectively. Daniel Alfredsson, Jonathan Toews, and Marian Hossa each earned a single vote.

When it came to choosing the NHL's most underrated player, there was far less consensus among the League's All-Star participants. Philadelphia defenseman Kimmo Timonen narrowly edged the field with four votes, while Dallas forward Loui Eriksson and Vancouver winger Jannik Hansen earned three votes each. Another Flyer, forward Scott Hartnell, got two votes while 17 different players, including Patrice Bergeron, Mikko Koivu, Dan Girardi, and Datsyuk, earned a single vote. The question itself proved so difficult for All-Star participants that nine different players chose not to answer.

Unlike the other two questions, naming the League's most surprising team thus far this season yielded a two-horse race. The All-Star host Ottawa Senators led the poll with 13 votes, narrowly edging the St. Louis Blues, who were selected by 12 players. The Panthers registered on some players' radars with five votes, while the Rangers and Predators were chosen twice. Toronto, Winnipeg, and Philadelphia each garnered a single vote while one player abstained from the question.
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