- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 12, 2012

Alex Ovechkin wasn’t sure how to answer a question about whether he deserved to be an All-Star this season, but he turned the attention to his Washington Capitals teammates.

“On my team right now, we have lots of guys who can be an All-Star,” he said before the selections were announced Thursday afternoon, calling out Nicklas Backstrom as a guy who needs to make it “a hundred percent.”

Backstrom didn’t make the roster when the NHL announced it hours later, but Ovechkin and surprise choice Dennis Wideman did. Ovechkin will make his fifth straight All-Star Game appearance, and Wideman his first.

Ovechkin has 17 goals, 16 assists and a minus-8 rating this season, far from All-Star numbers, but being one of the faces of the league likely got him the spot.

“I think it’s good for the sport. He’s one of the most well-known names in hockey,” winger Troy Brouwer said. “If you want to sell the game, you’ve got to sell it with a name like Ovechkin. I think that he probably should be going to the All-Star Game just to make sure that we’re selling the game of hockey.”

Wideman’s making the game was unexpected. He’s tied for fifth among defensemen in points with 29 (eight goals and 21 assists).

Wideman had one goal, four assists and a minus-13 rating in November.

Backstrom’s not at least being named an All-Star, despite a head injury suffered Jan. 3 and questionable status, came as an even bigger shock. He leads the Caps with 42 points on 13 goals and 29 assists.

“I think he’d be pretty down, too. I think he’s been looking forward to that. I don’t think he’s worried about getting to the All-Star Game; he’s worried about getting back playing for us,” forward Jason Chimera said. “I think that’s the biggest thing — for him to get healthy. And he’s going to help us a lot down the stretch. It’s tough position he’s in right now; you don’t want to force to get back either and have it get worse.”



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