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Penguins' Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang get All-Star bids, Phil Kessel shut out

Jonathan Bombulie
| Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, 4:39 p.m.
Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) and Kris Letang (58) were named as NHL All-Star selections on Wednesday.
Gene J. Puskar/AP
Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) and Kris Letang (58) were named as NHL All-Star selections on Wednesday.

Phil Kessel is becoming an expert at being snubbed.

Famously left off the U.S. roster for the World Cup of Hockey at the start of last season, Kessel was omitted from another roster when the NHL announced its All-Star selections Wednesday afternoon.

Instead, captain Sidney Crosby and defenseman Kris Letang will represent the Penguins at the annual midseason event Sunday, Jan. 28 in Tampa.

It's Crosby's seventh career All-Star selection, though he's played in the game only twice. It's the fourth All-Star pick for Letang.

Kessel leads the Penguins and is fifth in the Metropolitan Division in scoring with 47 points in 44 games, but he didn't make the 11-man squad, which includes six forwards, three defensemen and two goalies and is chosen by the league's hockey operations department.

If the rosters were chosen strictly on performance in the first half of the season, Kessel would have been an easy choice over Crosby.

Kessel, who leads the league with 27 power-play points, has been remarkably consistent. He has hit the scoresheet in 32 of the team's 44 games and hasn't gone more than two consecutive games without a point.

Crosby has perfectly respectable numbers, of course. He's seventh in the division in scoring with 43 points in 44 games. But he went through two pretty significant scoring slumps, recording no goals and three assists in an 11-game stretch from Oct. 21 to Nov. 11 and one goal and three assists in another 11-game downturn from Dec. 11 to Jan. 4.

If choosing based on overall star power, of course, Crosby is never a bad selection. He's the face of the game and the greatest player of his generation.

Letang's inclusion is an even bigger surprise than the snub of Kessel.

Coming off major neck surgery in April, Letang is in the midst of an up-and-down season. He's fifth in the division in defenseman scoring with 27 points in 41 games, but his plus-minus rating of minus-13 is fourth-worst in the division.

Washington's John Carlson was the biggest snub on the blue line. He leads Metropolitan defensemen in scoring with 34 points in 43 games. In goal, Columbus' Sergei Bobrovsky was a surprising omission.

At forward, Crosby will be joined on the Metropolitan team by captain Alex Ovechkin (Washington), Claude Giroux (Philadelphia), Taylor Hall (New Jersey) and John Tavares and Josh Bailey (Islanders). On defense, Letang will be joined by Noah Hanifin (Carolina) and Seth Jones (Columbus). The goalies will be Braden Holtby (Washington) and Henrik Lundqvist (Rangers).

In the Western Conference, former Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and winger James Neal were selected to represent the Vegas Golden Knights.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.

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