In October, each of Western Canada’s three National Hockey League entries recorded seven victories. In November, however, it was no contest.
While the Flames took over top spot in the Northwest Division with 10 November wins (eight of them coming on the road), the Canucks went 7-5 while the Oilers lost 10 games (seven in regulation, three via shootout) as well as the services of Ales Hemsky for the remainder of the season.
Meanwhile, the Avalanche thudded back to earth as they followed up their stunning 10-2-2 October with a 5-6-3 month while the Minnesota Wild made a slight rebound by going 5-3-3 in November after a 5-9-0 start.
Anyhow, without further ado, we bring you the Northwest Division Awards for November.
MVP: Jarome Iginla led the NHL with 13 November goals (two more than Northwest alum Marian Gaborik) and tied San Jose’s Joe Thornton for the month’s scoring title with 20 points. The Calgary captain had six more November points than any other division player (Olli Jokinen had 14) and seven more than any non-teammate. Despite all that, Iginla will share Northwest MVP honours with Miikka Kiprusoff, who posted remarkable 1.60 GAA/.947 SV% numbers during the month to go with an 8-2-3 record.
Honourable mention: Vancouver’s Mason Raymond, Minnesota’s Mikko Koivu and Calgary’s Jay Bouwmeester
LVP: Martin Havlat took a firm grip on this trophy in October and he’s showing no signs of wanting to let go. After his well-timed career season with the Blackhawks and his fat free-agent contract with the Wild, Havlat continues to be hurt a lot (six more games in sick bay) and unproductive on those nights he actually gets in the lineup (one goal, zero assists in seven November games). He’s still looking for his first even-strength goal of the season and he’s now minus-14.
Dishonourable mention: Edmonton’s Patrick O’Sullivan and Colorado’s Peter Budaj, who allowed nine goals in a span of four periods against division foes Edmonton and Vancouver
Quote of the month: Fear has been here since Adam and Eve. He was afraid to take a bite out of the apple, but he took it, and, well, look what happened to him. All players have it to a degree. You think big Sammy (Dave Semenko) used to sit before a game in the old Oilers days and say ‘Geez, I’ve got to fight that Willi Plett tonight.’ You bet he did. There was fear there, I’m sure. But, hey, you deal with it. He did.
— Oilers skipper Pat Quinn
Stat of the month: The Flames were 3-0 in games in which they surrendered 40 shots.
Individual stat of the month: No wonder his back is sore — Nikolai Khabibulin of the injury-riddled Oilers faced 33.4 shots per 60 minutes in six November games. His division counterparts had life relatively easy: Craig Anderson (30.9), Kiprusoff (28.4), Roberto Luongo (28.3) and Niklas Backstrom (27.5).