Thursday, December 01, 2011

Lion of November

The Real Player of the Month

It's not been officially announced yet, but when they get the chance the Canadiens will announce they are giving to the Molson Cup for November to guess who? Who else?

The fan vote actually kept it close this time with 14 star points for Price over Gionta and Cole (with 13 and 12 respectively). If it were up to the media, Price won this outright with 23 star points on 7 selections, his next nearest media darlings Cole and Pacioretty with 8 each. Gionta? The media star selectors didn't like his month much.

We've been over how this is geared to goalies, especially those that play 60 minutes of all but 3 games in a month. It's almost a win he's in mentality for the star selectors, fans or not.

As you know from recent posts, goalies can take no such thing for granted with us. We prefer to see what all systems cough up for candidates and decide from a short list.

So, there you have it: Lion of the Month.


Cole

From zero to hero, literally for Erik Cole this year. An absolute non-factor in training camp and the first several games of the season. Given how much of a factor he is game in, game out now it seems absurd to even think about that.

The flag goes up for Erik because over 14 November games, he managed to stand out enough to get 10 nods for the dome and 4 player of the game pucks. As forward performances go, this is outstanding. It shows he both stood out in wins and was providing good performances in losses.

Stats-wise, it's easy to dismiss his 5 goals and 5 assists off-hand. After all it's on a pace for 30 goals and 60 points (not exactly rampant for a good month). But a deeper look reveals little intricacies. 4 of his goals were first goals (so critical to Canadiens success) and another was a gamewinner.

He also drove play and good play for much of the month. He was on the ice for a team high 101 scoring chances, 71 of which were on net (not misses). He seemed the main engine of that in fact, with an impressive 32 scoring chances of his own over the month. This is made more impressive by the fact that his line was doing so much attacking they had relatively little defending to do, 56 scoring chances against, 41 on target. Shows that he worked for his excellent GF/60 (3.58) and GA/60 (1.79) ratings.

Not that it's the right time to highlight the PP (Anaheim looms large), but you should only have nightmares imagining where it would be without Cole. On for 4 PP goals, 2 of which were his own, he topped all in effectiveness by time but Kostitsyn who didn't really play this month anyway.


Price
It was very much a rebound month for Price. Coming from a 0.900 he could have followed his teammates into further mediocrity. He didn't.

Instead, he posted a great month where he was twice the NHL player of the week, grabbed 2 shutouts and gained loads of ground on the rest of the NHL goalies in the leaderboards. Overall for the month he was a cool 0.929 with a 1.97 GAA. As is often the case with the Habs, the goalie did not sync with the team, so the win-loss of 5-4-2 doesn't look great, but that shouldn't reflect on him.

Price also made an impression in the dome/puck standings. 10 domes from 11 starts (with the missed dome very much in dispute), he couldn't seem to have done much more. He also picked up 2 game pucks along the way making him the clear second by some margin in those standings.

Perhaps more outstanding than any other stat for Carey though is his 0.980 save percentage while shorthanded. Facing 49 PP shots, he turned a full 48 away. It's no cliche that that the goalie is the best penalty killer when you see numbers like that.


Lion of November: Carey Price

I'd say it's closer than the media had it, but in an up and down month a few star selections can really skew a picture that way. Even so, I have to say that both media and fans got it right in November. I am going to override the dome/puck scores this time and say Carey Price was the player of the month.

If you look back at November, the notable achievements were two shutout wins and incredible penalty killing efficiency. Carey Price had a huge hand in both. What's more, one could argue that without this kind of month from him, the team would have slipped into a position with no escape route. As it is they're in the thick of things due to the play of their goalie and a few others.

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