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St. Louis replaces ailing Crosby for Eastern All-Stars

by Shawn P. Roarke
MONTREAL -- NHL All-Star Weekend just got a little bit more hometown flavor.

Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay's top scorer and a native of the Montreal suburb of Laval, was named Thursday to replace an injured Sidney Crosby on the Eastern Conference roster for the 2009 NHL All-Star Game.

St. Louis, who has 46 points, is making his fifth All-Star Game appearance and his third straight. On the Tampa Bay scoring chart, he is two points ahead of Vincent Lecavalier, who was named to the All-Star Game earlier this month. The Lightning also sent rookie Steven Stamkos, the No. 1 pick in the 2008 Entry Draft, to perform in the Youngstars Game presented by Upper Deck.

Crosby withdrew Thursday from the 2009 NHL All-Star Game, which will be played Sunday (6 p.m. ET, Versus, CBC, RDS, NHL Radio, XM Radio) at the Bell Centre, because of injury concerns.

Crosby has been hampered with a nagging injury to his left knee and he was also struck on his left forearm twice by a puck during Tuesday's 2-1 loss to Carolina. Crosby missed last Friday's 3-1 win against the Anaheim Ducks after suffering the knee injury in a 6-3 setback to the Washington Capitals two nights earlier.

After consultation with team medical officials and General Manager Ray Shero on Wednesday, Crosby came to the decision that his body needed a five-day respite from hockey activity in order to be ready for Pittsburgh's second-half push.

At the All-Star Break, the Penguins are 23-21-4 for 50 points and sit 10th in the Eastern Conference and fourth in the rugged Atlantic Division. Crosby said last week that the Penguins must start playing with playoff-style desperation to right their foundering ship.

With the decision to withdraw, Crosby misses his second-straight All-Star Game. He missed last year's game in Atlanta because he was out of the lineup with a high-ankle sprain that cost him 29 games

Crosby, who has 60 points and sits second behind teammate Evgeni Malkin in the League scoring race, earned the most votes of any player in XM/NHL All-Star Fan Balloting presented by 2K Sports. His total of 1,713,021 votes is a record, shattering the mark held by former Penguin Jaromir Jagr.

Crosby was scheduled to part of the five-man much anticipated Scotiabank NHL Fan Fav Breakaway Challenge, which is the centerpiece of Saturday's 2009 Honda/NHL All-Star SuperSkills (7 p.m. ET, Versus, CBC, RDS, NHL Radio, XM Radio) at the Bell Centre.

Pat Kane, Ryan Getzlaf, Alex Ovechkin and Alexei Kovalev are the other participants in what should be the highlight event of Saturday's Festivities. In the Breakaway Challenge, each player has one minute in the offensive zone to come up with the most compelling trick-shot routine, as determined by a text-message vote of fans in the arena and watching on television

The Penguins will still be represented by Malkin, a starter for the Eastern Conference, and defenseman Kris Letang, who is playing in the Young Stars Game presented by Upper Deck, which is part of 2009 Honda/NHL All-Star SuperSkills.
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