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?
Well, the NHL’s two new initiatives for ’15-16 seem to be going swimmingly.
Not long after Ottawa successfully made the second-ever coach’s challenge, fans got their first look at 3-on-3 overtime.
And what a look it was.
In the span of 137 seconds, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers combined for eight shots on goal, a few breakaways, some tremendous saves — including one on a penalty shot — and, finally, Jason Garrison‘s game-winning goal on a breakaway from center, giving the Bolts a 3-2 win.
It was, in a word, fun.
Lots of fun.
A quick sampling of reviews:
Of course, not everybody was a fan:
Now, to temper things a bit — this was the first time we’ve seen 3-on-3 with something on the line, so there was a novelty factor at play. There’s also no guaranteeing future OT sessions will be as exciting as this.
But none of that takes away from the fact 3-on-3 made for appointment viewing, and immense entertainment value. The prospect of future games like this? That’s pretty exciting.
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…