Roberto Luongo has grown to hate the month of October. The Canucks goalie hasn’t played well in the first month of the season since 2006-07. True to form, his numbers after the first seven games of the 2011-12 season are dreadful: 3.54 goals-against average, .869 save percentage.
Well, today is the first of November, so cross that excuse off the list. And that goes for the rest of the Canucks, whose shoddy defensive coverage hasn’t exactly helped out their embattled goalie.
Luongo is expected to start tonight in Calgary, where two teams with mediocre records look to build on their recent play. The Canucks (5-5-1) are coming off a 7-4 win over the Capitals while the Flames (4-4-1) have won two in a row.
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault met with the media yesterday to discuss the end of the perennially nightmarish month for his team.
“Today is the last day of October, but a switch is not going to turn on where we automatically start winning in November,” he said, as reported by the Vancouver Province. “We’re going to have to work hard. Those are the key ingredients.”
It’s hard to explain why October has been such a challenging month for the Canucks. Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe they get too excited for Halloween. Or maybe — just maybe — it’s a different reason each season.
For example, this past October was the first October the current ensemble of Canucks has played after they lost the Stanley Cup final in heartbreaking fashion, the city was torn apart by rioters, and their goalie was roasted over the coals all summer for his performance in what was the team’s best chance in franchise history to win a championship.
Think that might have played a part in their slow start?
Or was it just…October?
Earlier today, PHT writer Adam Gretz made compelling cases for the Ducks, Bruins, Rangers, and Avalanche to take a run at Winnipeg defenseman Jacob Trouba.
But allow me to add one more team to the potential mix — the Detroit Red Wings, who could really use a 22-year-old, right-shot defenseman who skates well and has good offensive instincts.
The Wings also have a surplus of forwards to work with. While Dylan Larkin is probably untouchable, Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar probably aren’t. Or perhaps a youngster like Andreas Athanasiou or Anthony Mantha would interest the Jets.
The question the Wings may run into, should they make a push for Trouba, is whether they’d be willing to part with Danny DeKeyser. The 26-year-old defenseman just signed a six-year contract extension, and there’s reason to believe the Jets may look for a youngish, left-shot d-man in return for Trouba.
That’s pure speculation, for the record. DeKeyser is an important part of the Wings. He’s a Michigan native and he comes with a fairly reasonable, $5 million cap hit. However, it’s worth noting that, according to General Fanager, his no-trade clause doesn’t kick in until next summer.
At the very least, Ken Holland should be in touch with Kevin Cheveldayoff, if only to gauge the price for Trouba. The Red Wings’ GM said over the summer that he may look to trade for a defenseman around training-camp time, which happens to be right now.
“Part of this might be let’s get to September and see,” Holland said. “I’m hoping we’ve got 15, 16 NHL forwards and we’re positioned to do a deal.”
John Tortorella could only blame John Tortorella after the Blue Jackets got blown out in both their split-squad games Sunday against the Blues.
The Jackets dropped a 7-3 decision in St. Louis and lost 5-0 at home.
“Let’s not make any judgments here as far as today,” Tortorella said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “Today was going to be a mess. I give the guys credit. I’m not being negative about the team. They did what we asked of them (the first three days). They pushed. They gave it to us there and it suffers in these games.”
Tortorella, who runs notoriously tough training camps, wants to “make sure our conditioning is there by the 13th,” when the Jackets open the regular season.
Columbus plays its first three games at home, against Boston, San Jose and Chicago. A good start is going to be key for the Jackets, especially after starting last season 0-8-0.
New York liked enough of what it saw from Steve Bernier last season to offer him another kick at the can.
On Monday, the Isles announced that — for the second year in a row — Bernier would be coming to training camp on a PTO.
Last fall, Bernier parlayed his tryout into a one-year, $750,000 deal but only saw a limited body of work. The former first-round pick scored six points in 24 regular season games, then dressed for six playoff contests.
Bernier isn’t the only veteran forward attending Isles camp on a PTO, as longtime Devils winger Stephen Gionta is also there (Gionta and Bernier were once teammates in New Jersey).
There are holes to fill up front. The Isles lost three key forwards in free agency — Frans Nielsen, Matt Martin and Kyle Okposo — which will result in some of last year’s third- and fourth-line players getting bumped to more prominent roles.
Those promotions could bode well for Bernier and Gionta.
The Ottawa Senators announced today that they’ve purchased the AHL franchise in Binghamton, N.Y. and will move it to Belleville, Ont. for the start of the 2017-18 season.
From the press release:
The Ottawa Senators and the City of Belleville have also agreed on an eight-year agreement to welcome the newly minted Belleville Senators to the city.
In order to properly accommodate a new professional AHL team, the City of Belleville will immediately undertake more than $18.5 million in important renovations to modernize Belleville’s Yardmen Arena and prepare it for professional hockey for the first time in the city’s history.
The Baby Sens have played in Binghamton since 2002, winning a Calder Cup in 2011. AHL officials are reportedly working to secure another franchise for the city for the 2017-18 season.
Belleville to Ottawa is a mere 2.5-hour drive, according to Google. The Belleville Bulls were an OHL team that started playing in 1981 before moving to Hamilton in 2015.