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Bruins and Wild had memorable Novembers

by John Kreiser

Forgive the Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild if they're sorry to see the calendar turn from November to December. Both teams are coming off months they'll remember for a long time.

After an October in which the Bruins played like a team with a Stanley Cup hangover, they more than made up for their slow start with a November for the record books.

How good were the Bruins in November?

Their 6-3 victory at Toronto on Wednesday completed a 12-0-1 performance during the month, the first time since January 1969 (10-0-4) that they completed a calendar month without losing a game in regulation. The only flaw in their 13 November games was a shootout loss to Detroit on Friday.

The 25 points were the most by a Boston team in one month since March 1983, when the Bruins played 16 games and went 11-0-3. It's the first time since San Jose went 13-0-2 in March 2008 that a team went through a calendar month without a regulation loss; they are the only two teams ever to win 12 or more games and get points in every game during a single month.

Even scarier was the way in which the Bruins won.

Boston outscored the opposition 58-24 in November, meaning the Bruins averaged 4.5 goals per game while allowing just 1.8.

Six of the Bruins' 12 victories in November were by three or more goals -- only Detroit, Vancouver and Chicago had more than that through the first eight weeks of the season.  In contrast, San Jose's 13-0-2 month three years ago saw the Sharks win just once by more than two goals; eight of their 13 victories were by one goal or in a shootout.

Wild times -- While the Bruins were devouring opponents, the Wild were doing just enough to enjoy the best month in franchise history and move to the top of the League standings entering December (though Pittsburgh passed them with a win Thursday).

Minnesota outscored its opponents only 37-32 in November, but had the second-best month in the NHL with an 11-4-0 record -- giving the Wild 33 points, the most Minnesota has had through 25 games in franchise history.

While the Bruins were bashing their opponents, the Wild were able to get just enough goals to win. Seven of their 11 victories were by one goal, including three that were decided in overtime or shootouts. Only two wins were by three or more goals -- in fact, the Wild had more blowout losses (three) than wins.

One thing the Wild and Bruins do have in common is resiliency: Both have won nine games after allowing the game's first goal, tying them for the League lead.

Alex Ovechkin
Left Wing - WSH
GOALS: 8 | ASST: 10 | PTS: 18
SOG: 81 | +/-: -6
Shooter to hitter -- Alex Ovechkin has yet to reach double figures in shots in a game this season -- he had just one in Washington's 2-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Thursday. Instead, he's becoming a hitter. Ovi was credited with 10 hits against the Penguins, the second time in less than a month he's reached double figures in that category.

Ovechkin has 81 shots on goal in Washington's 24 games, putting him on a pace for a career-low 277. His hits total is up to 70, tied for ninth in the League and on pace for 239.

If Caps fans were hoping the coaching change from Bruce Boudreau to Dale Hunter would spice up the offense -- well, it hasn't. Washington has scored just twice in losing both games 2-1 while being outshot 65-36, with Ovechkin managing just one shot in each of the two games.

The Caps haven't even been getting many shots at goal. St. Louis and Pittsburgh combined for 130 shot attempts in Washington's first two games under Hunter, while the Capitals had just 72.

Ovechkin's one shot on goal against the Penguins was the fewest he's ever had against Pittsburgh -- and two fewer than Sidney Crosby was credited with. It marked the first time since Feb. 7, 2010, and just the fourth time in their 22 regular-season meetings, that Crosby had more shots than Ovechkin.

Doing it backwards -- The New Jersey Devils had one of the greatest penalty-killing months of any team in NHL history in November. Too bad their power play wasn't as helpful.

The Devils gave opponents 54 power plays in 14 games last month -- and killed 53 of them. Only the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 16 were able to beat the Devils with the extra man, and that goal was counteracted by a shorthanded goal from Zach Parise.

New Jersey also remained perfect while killing penalties at home -- the Devils are now 38-for-38 at the Prudential Center and have outscored visiting power plays 1-0 through 10 games. The Devils enter Friday's game at Minnesota having allowed just 5 goals in 89 power plays, a 94.4-percent success rate, and have scored three shorthanded goals.

Unfortunately for the Devils, their power play has struggled almost as badly as the penalty-killers have succeeded. New Jersey has just 10 power-play goals in 24 games, but leads the NHL by allowing six shorthanded goals -- meaning that, incredibly, the Devils' power play has allowed more goals than their penalty-killers.
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