The Boston Bruins had a historic November, and on the first day of the new month, one of the key players in that 12-0-1 run has been recognized for his excellence.
Goaltender Tim Thomas, who last season won the Vezina and Conn Smythe trophies en route to leading the Bruins to the Stanley Cup, on Thursday was named the NHL's First Star of the Month for November.
Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews
was named Second Star, and Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul was named Third Star. After going 3-4-0 during the Bruins' difficult opening month to their title defense, Thomas took off along with the team once the calendar switched to November. He won all nine of his starts, which included shutouts of the Maple Leafs on Nov. 5 and the Islanders and Canadiens in back-to-back games Nov. 19 and 21. His save percentage for the month was .941, even better than the NHL record-setting .938 he posted a season ago.
"I have felt good the last couple of days," Thomas said after blanking the Habs. "I don't know why, I'm just seeing the play well and reading what the other team's options are. Sometimes as a goalie, you get stuck in a puck focus, so when a guy makes a pass you get caught on your heels. Right now I've just got a good feeling that I'm in a good position for the shot, but at the same time, my feet aren't locked in, so I can move."
Toews put forth a number of monster efforts in leading the Blackhawks to a first-place tie with the Red Wings in the Central Division and one of the top spots in the Western Conference. He finished the month with 9 goals and 18 points, punctuated by a 2-goal, 5-point night against the Ducks on Nov. 25. Toews had the game-winning goal that night and again 24 hours later in Los Angeles. He had three multi-goal games and five multi-point efforts in the month.
"I'm working hard and with my linemates we're earning the success that we're getting," Toews told NHL.com earlier this week. "It's not coming out of the blue for us. A lot of people don't see it until you start scoring goals, but you know when you're playing well the whole time. We want to keep that going for a long time … not just for five games or 10 games. We know there's a lot of improvement still left on the table and can only get better."
Lupul, once an up-and-coming scorer for the Ducks and Flyers, may have resurrected his career with his red-hot November. It started with a hat trick against the Devils on Nov. 2 and culminated with a seven-game point-scoring streak to end the month. In all, Lupul registered at least a point in 12 of the 14 games the Maple Leafs played in November. That includes his top point-scoring night of the season, when he had a goal and 3 assists Nov. 19 against the Capitals.
"I have a lot of confidence right now," said Lupul, whose 30 points are just two behind teammate Phil Kessel for the League scoring lead. "I could tell right from training camp that I felt pretty good, I was confident with my game, I was confident with the way my body felt for the first time in a long time. I didn't expect this type of start but I expected myself to play well."