Lets examine the good and bad of the second month of this NHL season.
A+ Grade: Sidney Crosby had a decent October scoring six goals and 15 points in 12 games but exploded in November. Crosby was on fire last month as he recorded at least one point in all but one game and is currently on a 15 game point streak. Crosby scored 12 goals and 26 points in 14 games this November showing that he still has another level to his game. Crosby has a career high 51 goals and 120 points and is on pace to smash both of those highs this season.
A Grade: Dustin Byfuglien is proving everyone wrong. Not only going from the Stanley Cup Champions to the lowly Atlanta Thrashers but also going from forward to defense no one could have predicted the numbers Byfuglien is putting up. Byfuglien put up ten points in 11 games in October, which was a great pace for a career 0.4 point a game (p/gp) player. However Byfuglien raised his game for November scoring 17 points in 14 games (1.2 p/gp), which puts him on pace for a 30-goal and 84-point season. There is even talk that Byfuglien is already a top contender for the Norris trophy.
B Grade: Marc-Andre Fleury has a nightmare first month as he only won a single game and was being badly outplayed by his back-up. Fleury’s stats for October were 1-5-1 record with a GAA of 3.35, SV% of 0.863 and zero shutouts. Fleury found his game in November though going 8-1-1 and dropped his GAA to 1.96. Fleury increased his SV% to a sensational 0.931 and got his first shutout of the season. Fleury is currently on an eight-game winning streak. Crosby and Fleury have bolted the Pittsburgh Penguins into first place in the Eastern Conference.
B Grade: Kevin Shattenkirk wasn’t even in the NHL for the month of October. Shattenkirk didn’t have a great start to the AHL season as he scored zero points in ten AHL games prior to his call up and even in his first six NHL games with the Colorado Avalanche he only record a single assist. Shattenkirk finished out the month of November on a seven game point streak (ten points) and is currently on a nine game point streak (13 points). Shattenkirk is billed as an offensive defenseman who is on pace for a 23 goal and 70 point rookie season despite not playing the first 11 NHL games this season.
C Grade: Ryan Miller was the Vezina Trophy winner last year but hasn’t looked like the same goalie this season. Miller has been dealing with groin and upper body injuries this season. Miller improved in just about every stat category last month; finishing with a winning record, lowered his GAA from 2.71 to 2.20 and increased his SV% from 0.903 to 0.929. If the Buffalo Sabres are going to turn around their season Miller needs to play a lot better then he has. To start December Miller has won both games and not allowed a single goal yet so he is well on his way to getting the Sabres into a playoff spot.
D Grade: Ilya Kovalchuk is he worth all that money? New Jersey fans are starting to wonder if he really is. Kovalchuk had an OK October scoring six points 11 games but had an absolute disastrous November. Kovalchuk has never scored fewer than 29 goals in a season and has scored 40+ goals in each of the last six seasons, including two seasons with 50+ goals. This season the pucks are not going in as he has just five goals and is on pace for a very low 16 goals this season. Kovalchuk is on pace for a 35 point season definitely worth the 15-year $100 million contract he signed this off-season.
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