With apologies to Frank Sinatra, the Vancouver Canucks were shot down in October, but ridin' high in November. Can they stay on top in December?
The Canucks started the season's first month with a dismal 5-7 record but rebounded with a 9-4 November that included a pair of shootout losses to the Edmonton Oilers. Only Novembers 2002 (12-1) and 1974 (10-3-2) were better for Vancouver.
Considering how they began November 2007, it only feels like the best month in club history. Doom and gloom enveloped the team after the ugly 3-0 Nov. 1 home loss to the Nashville Predators when both Sami Salo and Kevin Bieksa left early with bloody injuries and finished their evenings in hospital.
Salo (broken nose) returned before month-end - three weeks after the injury - and got an assist in his first home game back. But Bieksa (sliced calf) won't be back on ice until the new year. The play of Bieksa understudy Alexander Edler has given hope to Canucks fans, who also saw Luc Bourdon ably contribute before Salo's return.
But the month's climax was the stellar play of goaltender Roberto Luongo, who became the first goaltender in the Canucks' 37-year history to register three consecutive shutouts. While the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets aren't the most dangerous offensive units in the league, the Anaheim Ducks offered the Canucks the scare of last week's trio. The defending Stanley Cup champions led 15-5 in shots after a dominant first period at GM Place before the Canucks found their scoring touch at the same time as the Ducks got comfortable in the penalty box.
Luongo also earned his rightful spot in the league's three stars of the week, announced yesterday.
As good as Luongo's performance was, it wasn't good enough to be top star of November. He has to settle for No. 2 behind Atlanta Thrasher Ilya Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk scored 14 goals - including back-to-back hat tricks to start November - and added eight assists. Tampa Bay Lightning's Vincent Lecavalier was third with a league-best 25 points in 14 games.