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It's that time of year again! Above you will see the official Road to Khabarovsk ballot for the 2014 KHL All-Star game, to be played this time around in Bratislava, Slovakia. You can cast your own vote here, voting once per day up until the noon, Moscow time, on the 28th of November!
Below the jump, a brief examination of the rationale behind my choices!
I imposed a couple of rules on myself before setting out on this venture. First of all, goalies have to have played in at least half of their teams' games. Secondly, since the KHL has decreed that no more than two players from a single team can be in the starting lineup, I figured that I would play along with that, and not vote for any more than two from one team. This put me in a bit of a pickle when it came to Team East, but we forge on.
Forward - Kyle Wilson (Dinamo Riga): Leading point-getter in the KHL among guys who do not play for Metallurg Magnitogorsk. Fourth in the league overall.
Forward - Ilya Kovalchuk (SKA St. Petersburg): Tied for 5th in the KHL in points, despite having missed games due to injury. Tied for 2nd in the West in points.
Forward - Mārtiņš Karsums (Dynamo Moscow): Tied with Nikolai Prokhorkin and Viktor Tikhonov for most goals in the West, but Karsums plays 1:15 less per game than Prokhorkin and 2:30 less than Tikhonov.
Defenseman - Sandis Ozoliņš (Dinamo Riga): Tied for 2nd in the West in points by defensemen, despite being 42 years old. A bit of a sentimental pick, but Ozoliņš is having an incredible season.
Defenseman - Maxim Chudinov (SKA St. Petersburg): +/- is a stat to be used with caution, but Chudinov leads the league in that category, which is impressive even if he does play for SKA. Best +/- on his own team by 4, and best among SKA's defensemen by 9.
Goalie - Ivan Lisutin (Vityaz Moscow Oblast): A bit unusual to have a Vityaz player make the ballot, but Lisutin has the best save percentage in the West among goalies who have played enough to qualify.
Forward - Sergei Mozyakin (Metallurg Magnitogorsk): Leading the league in points, and second in goals. It is amazing to me that there is still a debate going on over whether he should be on the Russian team for Sochi.
Forward - Danis Zaripov (Metallurg Magnitogorsk): Leading the league in goals, with half again as many as the guys in 3rd place, and second in points.
Forward - Brandon Bochenski (Barys Astana): Were it not for the "2 per team" rule, I would have had Jan Kovář here, but Bochenski is a more than adequate choice as well. Tied for 3rd in the league in goals.
Defenseman - Shaun Heshka (Ak Bars Kazan): That pesky "2 per team" law that I imposed on myself keeps Chris Lee out of this position, so we go with the guy who is second in the East in scoring among defensemen. He is tied with Salavat Yulaev's Kirill Koltsov, but Koltsov has an Even +/- on a team that is +14, so Heshka's +8 on a +29 team wins the day.
Defenseman - Vyacheslav Belov (Sibir Novosibirsk Oblast): A bit of a reach pick, I confess, but Belov has gone +10 on a team that is only +11 overall, and has chipped in with 15 points, 5th-most among East Conference defensemen.
Goalie - Mikko Koskinen (Sibir Novosibirsk Oblast): Best save percentage in the conference and the league among qualified netminders.
So there you have it! Vote early, vote often! Fan voting closes on the 28th, after which the journalists get their shot to pick the second lines and pairings, and the non-starting goalie, for each team.