November is a big month for the NHL. It shows whether teams who started off the season on a good note are legitimate contenders this season, or if they just caught early opponents off guard. With November being a “make-or-break” month, this is where the big names begin to shine as playoff contenders begin to pull away from the pack and teams either come together or fall apart.
To date, this month has been very kind to the New York Rangers. The Rangers currently have a 10-4-0 record on the season, and a 4-1-0 record in November. In the last five games the Rangers have averaged 4.6 goals per game, which is 0.5 goals per game more than they are averaging on the season. Without stellar play from star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who has a goals against average and save percentage below his career averages of 2.28 and .920 respectively, the Rangers prolific offense is finding a way to win games. Unless opposing coaches figure out a way to shut down the Rangers’ third and fourth lines that lead the team in scoring, the team will continue to cruise through November.
On the flip side, November has been a nightmare thus far for the New York Islanders. The Islanders are 1-1-2 this month, with both overtime losses coming in the shootout. The team is averaging 2.5 goals per game, 0.3 goals per game below their season average. The Islanders are also conceding 3.75 goals per game this month, 0.85 above their season average. If that trend keeps up, the Islanders would rank them 30th out of 30 teams in that category. The Islanders desperately need to turn things around this month if they hope to have a chance in the Metropolitan Division this season.
The Boston Bruins are a happy medium between the aforementioned New York teams. On the season the Bruins are 7-6-0 and 3-2-0 in November. If the Bruins offense can continue their scoring improvement, they are averaging 2.80 goals per game this month compared to 2.38 goals per game on the season, the team should have no problem staying competitive this month. The X-factor for the Bruins this month will be goaltender Tuukka Rask. Rask is preforming well with 1.74 goals against average, the fourth-best average in the league. If Rask fails to stay healthy, the team will find themselves towards the bottom of the standings due to a nightmarish backup goalie situation.
Jonathan Dupont is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.