Elias looking forward to third All-Star trip
2011 All-Star Game set for Sunday, Jan. 30 in Carolina
|Elias gets a shot on Jose Theodore at the 2002 All-Star Game in Los Angeles.|
The Devils’ leading scorer was one of 36 additional players named to the 2011 All-Star rosters on Tuesday.
He has a team-high 30 points, and leads the team in assists (21) and power-play goals (5). Two of his nine tallies have been game-winners.
In what has been a challenging season for the Devils, his selection to the All-Star festivities is something Elias can smile about.
“No question,” he said after Wednesday’s practice. “It’s been a very hard season result-wise. It’s something nice that people still recognize the way we work or the way I work. It feels good. You go through rough times, and all you can do is your best.”
Elias had two assists and an empty-netter in Sunday’s 6-3 win over Tampa Bay. It snapped a four-game losing streak for the Devils (11-29-2), who will look to end an 11-game road slide when they visit the Lightning on Friday.
He’s been lauded by head coach Jacques Lemaire for his play this year, but Elias would prefer that this All-Star appearance were occurring under better circumstances.
“You want to go when the team is doing well or you’re in the top 10 in points,” he said. “On the other hand, there were years that I thought maybe I could have gone and you don’t go.”
Two such seasons stand out. The first is 2000-01, when Elias finished with a career-high 40 goals and franchise-record 96 points. The Devils sent three representatives to Colorado that year: Martin Brodeur, Scott Niedermayer and Scott Stevens.
The other is 2003-04, when Elias collected 38 goals and 81 points, and Brodeur, Niedermayer and Brian Rafalski were tapped for the 2004 game in Minnesota.
Brian Rolston, a former All-Star (2007), found Elias’ honor to be well-deserved this year.
“I’ve played with him for two, three games now,” Rolston said. “It’s fun to play with him. Patrik’s a guy that makes his linemates better, plain and simple. Last year when I played with him, I was really productive. It took a few games, but we got a few on the board last game. There’s not many players as good as him that I’ve seen in my career, how he makes other guys on his line better, and just thinks the game really well. He’s got the skills to do it, and there’s not many that are as good as him.”
Dainius Zubrus, the right wing on Elias' line, scored Sunday off a set-up from Rolston, who had two assists. Zubrus, too, had high praise for No. 26.
“He’s a smart guy that almost every possession tries to make a play, tries to make something,” Zubrus said. “When it’s not there, he simplifies it.”
This will be the third All-Star trip for Elias, who debuted in 2000. He contributed two assists in the World Team’s 9-4 win over North America at Air Canada Centre, and picked up a helper in the World’s 8-5 win at Staples Center in 2002.
“I was in great cities,” Elias said. “I was in Toronto and L.A., and it was amazing, both of them. The whole event, the whole experience was great. You’re in your prime, kind of, in your 20s. You just enjoy it. I had a great time especially seeing a lot of the older guys, to be a part of the game with them. Now I’m the older guy. I don’t know everybody who’s going, but it seems like I’ll be one of the oldest there.”
Among the oldest, perhaps, but Elias, 34, can take comfort in knowing he won’t be the most senior participant in Carolina. That title goes to the ageless Nicklas Lidstrom, who at 40 is set to take part in his 11th All-Star Game.
Fans voted in the first six players for this year’s game, which takes place on Sunday, Jan. 30 at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C. The balloting was topped by Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jonathan Toews, Kris Letang, Duncan Keith and Marc-Andre Fleury.
A new wrinkle has been added in 2011. The NHL has replaced the conference versus conference system with the All-Star Player Fantasy Draft, to be televised live on VERSUS at 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 28. A coin toss between the two captains will decide the first pick, and the selections will alternate until each team has three goalies, six defensemen and 12 forwards.
Elias has one wish for his appearance at the 2011 NHL All-Star Weekend.
“Hopefully I won’t be picked as the last guy,” he joked. “Otherwise, I’m looking forward to it.”