Funny how the Flames escaped what for them has recently been the gruesome month of October with a fairly health 7-4-1 record and yet there are as many concerns and questions about the hockey club as ever.
Meanwhile, up in Edmonton, illness and a weird pattern of scoring either a lot or not at all has marked a .500-ish start for the Oilers.
And over in Vancouver, all the new space-age dressing-room features in the world hasn’t prevented the spate of injuries that have made the defending division-champion Canucks a very mediocre outfit.
With one month of play in the books, the Western Canadian clubs show 7-7-7 in the win column. That’ll get you a nice payout in Vegas but nobody should be in any hurry to plan a parade route in any of those cities.
Anyhow, without further ado, we bring you the Northwest Division Awards for October.
MVP: Craig Anderson has been so good so far this season, the NHL oughta allow him to re-add the second “S” in his surname. The Colorado Avalanche netminder was one of the stealth acquisitions of the past off-season and the former Flames draftee has compiled a 10-2-2 record, a 2.04 goals-against average and a scintillating .939 save percentage. More often than not, he’s been the single biggest difference between a Colorado club that many figured would be in the division cellar and the one that is actually leading the pack.
Honourable mention: Edmonton’s Dustin Penner, Calgary’s Rene Bouque and Colorado’s Wojtek Wolski
LVP: If the MVP comes from the division leader, then the Least Valuable Player should be selected from the bunch in the basement. The Minnesota Wild have several excellent candidates but let’s go with Martin Havlat, a splashy free-agent addition who has but one goal (it came on the power play) and a minus-9 figure to show for his early work with the Wildmen. He also found the time to miss a few games with a groin injury, just in case Minnesotans were feeling nostalgic about Marian Gaborik’s days with the franchise.
Dishonourable mention: Minnesota’s Brent Burns, Calgary’s Olli Jokinen and Vancouver’s Kyle Wellwood
Quote of the month: I’m watching how they play — do they compete? I know some of them have skill, I watch them in the morning, but some guys are really morning glories."
— Oilers skipper Pat Quinn on unnamed members of Edmonton’s skill players
Stat of the month: The Flames were 5-0 against the Western Canadian brethren in October and 2-4-1 against everyone else.
Individual stat of the month: The Avs’ Wolski was subject to several benchings by rookie skipper Joe Sacco but he still scored eight goals in October, none on the power play. The next most goals without the benefit of a man-advantage marker is five, a total reached by ex-Oiler Joffrey Lupul, Clarke MacArthur and Tyler Kennedy.