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October’s three stars: Steve Stamkos, Tim Thomas and Chris Stewart

The NHL handed out its three stars award for the month of October, with Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steve Stamkos, Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas and Colorado Avalanche winger Chris Stewart earning the honor.

It’s tough to say if the NHL made the right call in choosing Stamkos over Thomas, considering the fact that the Boston Bruins goalie went on the kind of run that literally might not be topped for years (if not a decade). Still, the league made the right choices, even if the order is debatable.

Let’s take a look at each player’s outstanding month of play, with some help from the league’s press release and a pithy comment or too to boot.

1. Steve Stamkos

Stamkos led all players in scoring with 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in 10 games as the Lightning (7-2-1) finished October with the top record in the Eastern Conference for the first time in franchise history. The 20-year-old Markham, Ontario native, who last season became the third-youngest player in NHL history to claim the League’s goal-scoring title with 51, tallied points in nine of 10 games, highlighted by five multiple-point performances and a pair of game-winning goals. He also ranked among the League leaders in plus-minus, tying for second overall with a +9 rating.

His 23.7 percent shooting percentage indicates that he might have been a little lucky at times last month. Indeed, a near-goal-per-game pace is probably too much to expect from the sniper who looks like an ’80s teen comedy villain, but he has a fantastic chance to top his great 51-goal mark from last season.

Stamkos also has plenty of financial justification for continuing to play well. After all, his entry-level contract expires after this season; could he earn a Sidney Crosby-type salary by remaining dominant for the rest of 2010-11?

2. Tim Thomas

Thomas won each of his six starts in October, posting a League-leading 0.50 goals-against average, .984 save percentage and three shutouts. He allowed one goal or fewer in each appearance, becoming the first Bruins goaltender to start the season 6-0-0 since Hockey Hall of Famer Cecil ‘Tiny’ Thompson in 1937-38.

Read all about the amazing six-game start for Thomas right here.

3. Chris Stewart

It was a pretty good month for both of the Stewart brothers (Anthony Stewart of the Atlanta Thrashers also played quite well), but Chris really took the cake. Here is a little bit more about the budding power forward’s amazing month via the league’s press release.

Stewart ranked second behind Stamkos in October scoring, posting 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) in 11 games. He also tied for the League lead with three game-winning goals, helping the Avalanche (6-4-1) claim first place in the Northwest Division.

Anyway, those are the league’s choices for the best three players for the month of October. Do you have any quibbles with those choices? Let us know if you would have chosen someone else in the comments.

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    Canada scores five unanswered in 5-1 rout of Team USA at Worlds

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    Team Canada’s veteran lineup was too much for the young Americans to handle today in Saint Petersburg, Russia, where the Canadians rolled to a convincing 5-1 victory as the preliminary round of the World Championship got underway.

    The United States actually opened the scoring, on a first-period, power-play goal by Patrick Maroon. But Taylor Hall quickly tied it, and soon after that, Brendan Gallagher gave the Canadians the lead. Matt Duchene, Boone Jenner, and Brad Marchand added the insurance goals for Canada.

    Keith Kinkaid was in goal for the Americans, Cam Talbot for the Canadians.

    Auston Matthews logged 16:56 in ice time and registered three shots for Team USA, who play Belarus tomorrow.

    The Canadians are off until Sunday, when they’ll take on Hungary.

    Rangers’ Lindberg has hip surgery, will need six months to recover

    NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 10: Oscar Lindberg #24 of the New York Rangers celebrates his second goal of the game at 5:12 of the first period against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Madison Square Garden on October 10, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    The New York Rangers announced this morning that forward Oscar Lindberg has undergone a “successful simultaneous bilateral hip labral repair.”

    That’s a long way of saying he had hip surgery.

    The Rangers say the expected recovery time for Lindberg is six months, meaning the 24-year-old is likely to get a late start to next season.

    In 2015-16, his first full season in the NHL, Lindberg had 13 goals and 15 assists in 68 games. However, he was a regular healthy scratch down the stretch.

    “I thought Oscar was playing well,” head coach Alain Vigneault said in March. “But when Rick Nash came back, we had 13 healthy forwards. It’s just the way it slotted out.”

    In the playoffs, Lindberg dressed for just two of the Rangers’ five contests (Games 4 and 5 versus Pittsburgh).

    Related: Rangers sign Lindberg

    Report: Wild talked to Crawford, Boucher about head coaching gig

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    Of all the available coaching gigs, Minnesota’s seems to be the most muddled right now — there’s still no word on the status of interim bench boss John Torchetti, and GM Chuck Fletcher has reached out to both Randy Carlyle and Bruce Boudreau.

    Now, the Star-Tribune is reporting Fletcher has also contacted another pair of veteran coaches: Marc Crawford and Guy Boucher.

    Crawford, fresh off a four-year stint in the Swiss League — where he coached coveted draft prospect Auston Matthews in Zurich — is gunning for an NHL return, and would even accept an assistant coaching position to get his foot back in the door.

    Related: Marc Crawford coaching in Detroit? Hey, could happen…

    Boucher, also coming off a stint in the Swiss League, wants back in the NHL as well. He was in the running for a pair of gigs last offseason — Toronto, which ultimately went to Mike Babcock, and New Jersey, which ultimately went to John Hynes.

    An interesting wrinkle with the Wild’s coaching search? Per the Star-Tribune, it sounds like coaches might be asking as many questions of Fletcher as Fletcher is of the coaches. The longtime GM has come under fire recently for the club’s current roster makeup, which forced owner Craig Leipold to give Fletcher a public vote of confidence during the playoffs.

    Caggiula expected to sign shortly, Canucks could be front-runners

    during the championship game of the 2016 NCAA Division I Men's Hockey Championships at Amalie Arena on April 9, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.The North Dakota Fighting Hawks defeated the Quinnipiac Bobcats 5-1 to win the national title. Getty
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    College free agent Drake Caggiula is expected to pick a team shortly, possibly even today.

    The University of North Dakota winger had originally shortlisted six teams, according to a report. Those teams were Philadelphia, Edmonton, Ottawa, Vancouver, Chicago and Buffalo.

    TSN’s Bob McKenzie said this morning on Edmonton radio that the Canucks are “maybe” the front-runners to land the 21-year-old. Vancouver signed Caggiula’s teammate, defenseman Troy Stecher, a couple of weeks ago, and Caggiula’s linemate, Brock Boeser, was drafted by the Canucks in the first round last year.

    Recently, Boeser told Postmedia that he was trying to convince Caggiula to sign with Vancouver, where there will be plenty of opportunities for young forwards in the next couple of years.

    If it’s not the Canucks, McKenzie said he’s heard the Oilers have a “puncher’s chance” of getting Caggiula.