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?
But the chance for at least a single point slipped at the worst possible time, as Jonathan Toews scored with 1:18 left in regulation and then set up an empty net goal from Marian Hossa just a few seconds later to secure the 4-2 win.
The Canucks remain stuck at five wins — just five wins — on the road. They have the 29th-ranked road record in the entire NHL. Only the Arizona Coyotes have been worse away from home ice. So, that’s a problem that needs to be fixed down the stretch.
Vancouver had a chance to move into a wild card spot. Instead, they let the Blackhawks regain momentum as the period went on, and as a result, they remain on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture for right now.
Corey Crawford earned his 200th career win, making 26 saves. That’s a milestone night for him. For Toews, that’s his most productive night of the season, as he factored into all four Chicago goals, which, of course, included the winner.
So overtime against the New York Islanders seemed like a perfect time for captain Claude Giroux to bust his scoring slump.
Without a goal in his last 12 games, or since Dec. 21 before the holiday break, Giroux finished the Flyers comeback with an overtime goal to give Philly a 3-2 victory on Sunday. Jakub Voracek did great work along the boards to force a turnover from John Tavares, and Shayne Gostisbehere followed up his chance with a quick pass to a wide-open Giroux at the top of the crease.
That comeback win — Philly trailed by two goals early in the second period — bumps the Flyers back into a wild card spot.
Steve Mason had a big game in net for Philly, with 36 saves, while the Flyers fired 47 shots on goal toward Thomas Greiss, although it’s a difficult task trying to re-set and stop Giroux — an accomplished scorer in the NHL — on the doorstep.
Goals, goals and more goals! Blue Jackets outlast Senators for overtime win
Plenty of goals. A little three-on-three overtime. Seemed like an enjoyable afternoon of hockey between the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Well, maybe the goalies, Mike Condon and Joonas Korpisalo, didn’t enjoy it as much.
The Blue Jackets prevailed for a 7-6 overtime win, with Cam Atkinson scoring just 1:09 into the extra period. That’s his 23rd goal of the season. Only two players — Jeff Carter (24) and Sidney Crosby (28) — have scored more goals than Atkinson this season.
With the win, and the Capitals sitting idle today, the Blue Jackets move back into a tie with Washington at 68 points in the fight for first place in the Metropolitan Division.
There were some anxious moments for Columbus.
Rookie defenseman Zach Werenski was hurt blocking a shot in the third period. He briefly left the game, unable to put any pressure on his right leg as he was helped off.
The good news: He only missed a few minutes, returning late in regulation and for the overtime as well, which is important for the Blue Jackets.
#CBJ Zach Werenski said on @FOXSportsOH post-game he "thought it was broken" and "long term" injury when he blocked the shot.
“He’s made a couple of huge mistakes in a game and he comes to the bench, shakes it off and then goes out and makes a great play. For a 19-year-old playing that position and the amount of time he’s getting in key situations with this organization, it’s pretty impressive.”