|Avalanche center Paul Stastny makes first All-Star team|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 11 January 2008 00:24|
The Colorado Avalanche second-year center was picked for his first Western Conference All-Star team Thursday.
``It's great. It's always exciting when it's the first time for anything,'' Stastny said in a conference call.
Now if he could only score a goal sometime soon.
He's gone 10 games without finding the net - the longest stretch of his career. Yet he still leads the Avalanche in scoring with 44 points.
``It's frustrating at times,'' said Stastny, who has 15 goals and 29 assists this season. ``It's a mental game.''
With his selection, Stastny and his dad, Peter, become just the seventh father-son tandem chosen for separate All-Star teams. Stastny hasn't had a chance to talk to his father yet, who's currently in Europe.
``I'm sure he'll be excited for me,'' said Stastny, whose father made six All-Star appearances in his 15-year career. ``He's always more excited than I am.''
Stastny was elated just to make his first All-Star game, which will take place Jan. 27 in Atlanta. He's also scheduled to participate in the NHL All-Star Skills competition on the day before.
``Hopefully, I can soak it up and enjoy it as much as I can,'' he said.
Stastny is a little awed by how fast he's caught on in the NHL. As a rookie last season, he finished with 78 points and was runner-up for the league's top rookie award, losing out to Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin. Stastny also set an NHL rookie record with a 20-game scoring streak.
``I never expect too much,'' said Stastny, who had a standout career at the University of Denver before being selected by Colorado in the second round of the 2005 entry draft. ``I just try to go out there and be the best I can be. Sometimes, things are going really well. Sometimes, they're down.''
He's going through a lean stretch right now. Stastny hasn't scored a goal since his game-winner Dec. 17 against the Los Angeles Kings.
He's far from the only Avalanche player in a cold spell. Milan Hejduk has now gone eight games without a goal and Andrew Brunette has only one goal in his last 17 contests.
``Everyone is gripping the stick a little tighter,'' said Stastny, whose team is 1-5-1 over its last seven games. ``We can't get any bounces to go in right now.''
The Avalanche are missing quite a bit of offensive punch with injuries to forward Ryan Smyth (broken ankle) and captain Joe Sakic (hernia). Neither is expected back for close to two months.
``You try to pick up the slack,'' Stastny said. ``It would be nice to have them. If we use them as an excuse, we'll be out of the race real quick.
``What we're trying to do is keep battling - bear down harder,'' Stastny added. ``We can't moan about it.''
Stastny said he's not letting his drought weigh on him. He'll simply do what he's always done - work harder. He's staying late after practice to sharpen his touch around the net.
``You can't let it get to your head,'' Stastny said. ``It happens to everyone. Sometimes, you feel like nothing is going your way. Eventually, it's going to turn around.''
He laughed and said: ``The sooner the better.''