SAN JOSE (CBS / AP) — Dan Boyle of the San Jose Sharks was one of 12 defensemen picked Tuesday to be on the 2011 NHL All-Star game roster.
In all, 36 players along with 12 rookies – including Sharks’ center Logan Couture, who will only participate in the skills competition during All-Star weekend, were chosen by the league’s hockey operations department.
This will be Boyle’s second straight All-Star appearance, but the news comes as San Jose will try to snap a four-game losing streak Tuesday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“It’s an accomplishment,” Boyle said in a statement posted on the Sharks’ website. “I’m happy, but obviously we’re still playing some games here and we’re on a losing streak so it’s a little bittersweet. But it’s always an honor.”
For the All-Star festivities Jan, 28 in Raleigh, N.C., the NHL is straying from the traditional Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference format. Next week, two captains will be chosen and charged with the task of picking the two rosters. Think fantasy draft in a world of reality.
Each team for the game will be made up of three goalies, six defensemen and 12 forwards. It has been two years since the NHL staged an All-Star game, as last season’s game was skipped because of the Vancouver Olympics.
But Boyle’s focus Tuesday wasn’t on North Carolina and the All-Star game later this month, it was on Tuesday night’s game against Toronto.
“I still believe in our team,” Boyle said. “We’ve got to find a way. Obviously we haven’t scored in a couple games and we’re struggling there.”
The Sharks haven’t lost at home to the Toronto Maple Leafs in nearly 14 years, so this may appear to be an ideal chance for them to snap a season-worst losing streak.
San Jose (21-17-5) has won four straight against the Maple Leafs (17-20-4), including the only meeting last season – a 3-2 road win Feb. 8. The Sharks’ home success in the series includes three wins and two ties since their last defeat on March 26, 1997.
San Jose hopes those trends continue as it tries to end their losing streak, which has seen it outscored 6-1 in the last three games. The slide is the Sharks’ longest since a six-game stretch from March 13-21, and they got closer to matching that dubious run by losing 1-0 at Anaheim on Sunday despite outshooting the Ducks 37-28.
“We are playing good hockey, but nothing wants to find its way into the net for us right now,” said captain Joe Thornton, who doesn’t have a point in five consecutive games. “We are right there, right on the brink of breaking out. We just have to keep working at it, because it’s tough to score goals.”
Finding the net against Toronto, which allows 2.95 goals per game, would seem to provide a good solution to San Jose’s scoring slump. However, the Maple Leafs have outscored opponents 21-7 during a four-game road winning streak.
Toronto has also won three in a row overall for the first time since a 4-0 start. The team got closer to matching that streak Monday, beating Los Angeles 3-2.
Nikolai Kulemin has a six-game points streak on the road, totaling five goals and four assists. The left wing scored the go-ahead tally early in the third period against the Kings after getting two goals and two assists in Friday’s 9-3 win at Atlanta.
Kulemin’s 16 goals match his career high set from last season, and he found the net in a 5-2 loss in the most recent visit to San Jose on Dec. 2, 2008.
That was the first game at San Jose for Leafs coach Ron Wilson since he guided the Sharks to the playoffs four times before being fired in 2008.
Wilson may give James Reimer another start after he stopped 71 of 76 shots in the last two games. The 22-year-old rookie is 3-1-0 with a 1.90 goals-against average in five games – four starts – since being recalled from the Toronto Marlies of the AHL last month after Jean-Sebastien Giguere was ruled out indefinitely with a groin injury.
Toronto is also getting contributions from recent call-ups Darryl Boyce and Joey Crabb. Boyce has two goals and two assists in six games, while Crabb has five assists in nine contests.
“Those guys have all come in and helped us out when we needed it,” captain Dion Phaneuf said. “We’ve been playing some great hockey for the last 10 days, two weeks. We weren’t getting results for a bit … but we’re all getting it done together now.”
The Sharks could use some increased production from Couture, who is vying to become just the second Sharks player to win the Calder Trophy, leading all rookies with 19 goals while his 28 points are second — but he’s mustered only one goal and two assists in the last nine games.
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