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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    In Jets return, Burmistrov delivers headshot to Bergeron (Updated)

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    Didn’t take long for Alex Burmistrov to make his presence felt — though not in a good way.

    Burmistrov, playing in his first game for the Jets after a two-year stint in Russia, delivered a questionable elbow to the head of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron late in the first period of Thursday’s season-opener:

    Burmistrov received a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head, while Bergeron received a matching minor for roughing (retaliating for the elbow, specifically).

    The Bruins went into the intermission leading 1-0, and have yet to update Bergeron’s status.

    Update: Bergeron stayed in the game, but B’s head coach Claude Julien was none too pleased with the hit. Following the game, he called for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to look at it…

    Two-for-two: Another successful coach’s challenge as Sens reverse Kane’s goal

    Dave Cameron
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    Coaches are quickly getting the hang of this challenge thing.

    Following Mike Babcock’s successful challenge in Toronto’s opening-night loss to Montreal on Wednesday, Babcock’s provincial rival — Sens head coach Dave Cameron — got it right as well, successfully reversing Evander Kane‘s would-be equalizer in the third period.

    From the league:

    At 10:34 of the third period in the Senators/Sabres game, Ottawa requested a Coach’s Challenge to review whether Buffalo was off-side prior to Evander Kane’s goal.

    After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Linesman determined that Buffalo’s Zemgus Girgensons was off-side prior to the goal. According to Rule 78.7, “The standard for overturning the call in the event of a ‘GOAL’ call on the ice is that the Linesman, after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the Toronto Video Room, determines that one or more Players on the attacking team preceded the puck into the attacking zone prior to the goal being scored and that, as a result, the play should have been stopped for an “Off-side” infraction; where this standard is met, the goal will be disallowed.”

    Therefore the original call is overturned – no goal Buffalo Sabres.

    The clock is re-set to show 9:32 (10:28 elapsed time), when the off-side infraction occurred.

    As the league later noted, this was the first coach’s challenge under the offside scenario.