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Four Rangers in hunt to be All-Star starters

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers


· Click Here to Vote for the All-Stars Now

Over the next several weeks, Rangers fans looking to support their favorite team can help put some of their favorite players in the upcoming NHL All-Star Game. Four members of the 2006-07 Rangers team are on the ballot for the Jan. 24 game in Dallas.

Jaromir Jagr, Henrik Lundqvist, Michael Nylander and Brendan Shanahan are all in the running to be All-Star starters, as they are among the players listed on the official NHL ballot, released earlier this month.

Jagr and Shanahan are no strangers to the NHL All-Star Game. They have appeared in it numerous times and actually started the 1996 game together on the same line with Mario Lemieux.

Nylander and Lundqvist are first-time candidates, as they look to be part of the first All-Star Game since 2004. There was no game in 2005 due to the NHL lockout, and the league called off the game last year due to the extended Olympic break. Lundqvist did not enter the league until last year, making this his first shot at being part of this 60-year-old NHL tradition.

Fans have been voting for the All-Star starters since 1986, and over the years, fans from specific local markets have shown tremendous support for a given team by loading starting lineups with its players. Such strong turnouts in voting are often seen as evidence for a team's popularity throughout the league. Five Edmonton Oilers started in the 1986 game, three Los Angeles players in 1989, and three Pittsburgh players in 1992.

Since fan voting began, the record for Rangers players in the starting lineup of a conference team is two, with Brian Leetch and Wayne Gretzky both being voted into the 1997 game.

Even if all four players do not make it to the All-Star Game as starters, they still have a chance to play in the game. The Eastern and Western Conference coaches will select all players other than starters.

For the first time in All-Star Game history, this year's voting will be conducted only via the Cold-fX/NHL All-Star Fan Balloting link on NHL.com and via text messaging on the Verizon Wireless network in the U.S. and the Bell network in Canada. Balloting continues until 11:59 p.m. ET on Jan. 2, 2007.

Individual fans can vote as often as they wish. Fans over 13 who cast ballots are entered into a contest to win a trip to the big game in Dallas, where they will meet Rangers legend Mark Messier.

The 2007 NHL All-Star Game ballot is currently available on the NHL.com website at:

http://www2.nhl.com/allstarballot/

Here is a closer look at the four Rangers on the ballot:

Jagr Jaromir Jagr
Position: Right Wing
Previous All-Star Appearances: 1992, 1993, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004
Voted in as Starter: 1992, 1993, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003
Season with Rangers : Third season
Scoring Pace Through 25 Games 1.48 points per game

Last season's Lester B. Pearson Award winner as the top player in the NHL as voted by the National Hockey League Players Association has picked up right where he left off last season, leading the league with 25 assists and 37 points after 25 games. The 2006-07 season has been a historic one thus far for Jagr, who became the 16th player in NHL history to record 600 goals on Nov. 19 vs. Tampa Bay. He also became the NHL's all-time leading European goal scorer on Nov. 21 vs. Carolina and the all-time European point scorer, passing Stan Mikita on Nov. 25 at Pittsburgh. The Czech superstar was also named the 24th captain in Rangers history on Opening Night, an honor he has both embraced and succeeded with.

Lundqvist Henrik Lundqvist
Position: Goaltender
Previous All-Star Appearances: None
Season with Rangers : Second season
Goals-Against Average After 25 Games 2.91
Save Percentage After 25 Games .900

Last year's rookie phenom has overcome a shaky beginning to become one of the hottest goaltenders in the NHL. Lundqvist had an 11-7-1 record through the Rangers' first 25 games, and in his last nine games entering the Nov. 28 overtime loss to Atlanta, he posted a 6-2-1 record, along with 1.97 goals against average and a .932 save percentage. His finest early-season performance came in a shutout victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes on Nov. 15, recording 34 saves in the process. The 2006 gold-medal winner with Sweden also boasts a perfect shootout record, stopping all 19 shots he has faced this season, including a remarkable 13 straight shooters on Oct. 7 at Philadelphia.

Nylander Michael Nylander
Position: Center
Previous All-Star Appearances: None
Season with Rangers : Second season
Scoring Pace Through 25 Games 1.28 points per game (on pace for career-high)
Assists Pace Through 25 Games 0.92 assists per game (on pace for career high)

Nylander has excelled in his second season with the Blueshirts, ranking second in the NHL in assists (23) and fourth in points (31) through 25 games. Considered one of the best pure skaters in the NHL, Nylander's vision on the ice enables him to find open players with ease. The Swedish pivot is especially dangerous down low where he is able to deke the goaltender and defenseman in very tight spaces. He had recorded points in 18 of the Rangers' first 25 games, including four three-point games. Nylander turned in an outstanding performance on Nov. 10 at Atlanta, recording two goals and one assist in a 5-2 victory. He set the tone that day against a standout Thrashers team by notching his first goal just 15 seconds into the game..

Shanahan Brendan Shanahan
Position: Right Wing
Previous All-Star Appearances: 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002
Voted in as Starter: 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002
Season with Rangers : First season
Scoring Pace Through 25 Games 0.68 goals per game (on pace for career-high)

In his first season with the Rangers, Shanahan added greatly to his Hall of Fame credentials. The two-time 50-goal scorer became the 15th player in NHL history to notch 600 career goals with a pair of tallies in his Rangers debut on Oct. 5, and through 25 games he led the entire league with 17 goals. The 37-year old winger also ranked third in the NHL with eight power-play goals and has recorded at least one point in the Blueshirts' first 25 games. Shanahan also had put together point-scoring streaks of six and eight games and was leading the team in game-winning goals.
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