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Scott Hartnell Proving to be Worthy of an All-Star Bid

UPDATE:Scott Hartnell was chosen to replace Jonathan Toews yesterday, literally 3 hours after I posted this.

Even if the NHL won't recognize Scott Hartnell as an All-Star, his play as of late has certainly been to that caliber. Coming off of a five goal weekend, with two against New Jersey on Saturday and a hat-trick against Boston on Sunday, Hartnell sits with 25 goals. Couple that along with 19 assists and he has 44 points in 47 games played. This is the same guy that was thrown into trade speculation as late as October of 2011 and everyone was all for it. Once a hated player for his balance, or lack thereof, he's quickly grown into a fan favorite here in Philadelphia.

Last year, Hartnell played on a line with Danny Briere and Ville Leino. That was a great line and it shows when Leino cashes all 27 million dollars of that new deal he signed with Buffalo. Briere put up 66 points that year. The only guy that didn't fit in was Hartnell. Fans were getting tired of seeing him on the ice and started "#HartnellDown", which counts how many times he falls, on Twitter. Even though he put up 49 points, it wasn't enough for the fans to see a former first round draft choice put those numbers up. Soon, almost everyone wanted him shipped out of town for anything they could get for him. I'm sure everyone is glad Flyers GM Paul Holmgren didn't.

Smash cut to this year, and now he is on a line with future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr and the budding superstar in Claude Giroux. Giroux has one of the highest points-per-game ratios in the whole league, and that has helped revive the career of Jaromir Jagr, who has spent the last three seasons in the KHL. Hartnell said it was easy playing with those guys because all he has to do is pass it to them and go to the front of the net. So far, that strategy is working. Hartnell makes his presence felt every game just by banging in the slot, agitating his opponents. He did that before, but now he has the points to back up his play. He's on pace for 39 goals, nine above his career high, and 29 assists, 1 below his career high. that would total up to 68 points. It would be his first 60 point season since 2008-2009, which was his one and only. 68 points is on par for a former first round pick and he's not bad defensively. Sure, he doesn't get penalty kill time, but he's not a liability and he drives the play up the ice due to his tenacious nature along the boards. He wins the corner and side board battles which force the puck out and up the ice towards the neutral zone. Everything is there for him to be playing on January 29th. Why isn't he?

This isn't to take anything away for Edmonton's Jordan Eberle, who is worthy of a bid to and got one with Mikko Koivu getting injured. However, Hartnell should have gotten a player vote due to his play. Maybe it's his ability to get under the opponent's skin which kept him from getting those votes, but that seems silly. When was the last time a player performing at almost a point-per-game was kept from the All-Star Game? I mean, he's outperforming Alex Ovechkin! Maybe with Jonathan Toews likely to call out, the NHL will give Hartnell his fair shot for his first ever All-Star appearance.

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