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Numbers: Iginla heating up after another slow October

by John Kreiser
Maybe Calgary captain Jarome Iginla should petition the NHL to start the season later -- say, Nov. 1.

For the third year in a row, Iginla had a less-than-fantastic October. He finished the month with just 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists), the third time in as many seasons that he's struggled through the opening month of the season: Iginla has just 8 goals and 20 points combined in 32 games during the past three Octobers and hasn't scored more than 4 goals in any of those three Octobers. It's a big change from the three previous Octobers, when he had 19 goals and 42 points in the same number of games.

The good news for Iginla and the Flames is that November follows October -- and with it comes their captain's scoring touch. He had a pair of goals in Thursday's 4-1 win at Detroit and is 2-2-4 this month, matching his offensive numbers for all of October.

Jarome Iginla
Right Wing - CGY
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 3 | PTS: 7
SOG: 30 | +/-: -2
The Flames can only hope Iginla's production in November continues -- but there's history on their side: Iginla had 8 goals and 13 points last November and piled up 13 goals and 20 points in November 2009.

Clipped Wings -- Iginla broke out of his slump Thursday in Detroit. The Wings are still trying to find a cure for theirs.

Thursday's loss was the sixth in a row (0-5-1) for the Wings, their longest skid since they had the same record during a six-game stretch from Feb. 7 to Feb. 17, 2008. Even more amazing was that this year's slump came after the Wings started 5-0-0.

Detroit's problem is simple: no goals. The Wings have been outscored 22-6 during the losing streak. They scored just 23 goals in their first 10 games, the franchise's poorest offensive start since the 1975-76 club scored 18 across the same 10-game span.

The lack of goals has nothing to do with a lack of opportunities. The Wings are averaging more than 35 shots a game, and Thursday night (29) was the first time they had less than 31.

The one good omen for the Wings: The last time they dropped six in a row, they went on to win the Stanley Cup.


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By John Kreiser - Columnist
Of the 17 defending champs since 1994, Boston already is assured of having the worst record through 10 games. Go inside this and other numerical oddities from the NHL's opening month. READ MORE ›
Lost Island -- The Wings' scoring problems pale in comparison to those of the New York Islanders, who became the last team to reach the 10-game mark Thursday when they lost 3-0 to Winnipeg at home.

The Isles finished their first 10 games with only 18 goals, their lowest output through 10 games since entering the NHL in 1972. Thursday's loss marked the third time in seven home games this season that the Islanders have failed to score.

All or nothing --
Talk about a team that scores in fits and starts.

The Boston Bruins scored five times on Tuesday in their 5-3 victory against the Ottawa Senators -- just the third time this season they've scored more than three goals. Those three games (4-1 against Tampa Bay and 6-2 against Toronto, as well as Tuesday's win), have produced 15 of the Bruins' 26 non-shootout goals and three of their four victories. In the other eight games, Boston is 1-7-0 (the lone win was a 3-2 shootout victory at Chicago) and scored just 11 times.

Oil's slick -- Like the Islanders, the Edmonton Oilers have a load of young talent. Unlike their rivals from the 1980s, the Oilers' young talent is putting wins on the board.

Thursday's 3-0 victory at Los Angeles gave the Oilers an 8-2-2 record through 12 games -- a remarkable swing from the same point last season, when Edmonton was 4-6-2 on the way to a second straight last-place finish in the overall standings. The Oilers didn't get their eighth win last season until Dec. 1.

The win at L.A. was their sixth in a row, something the Oilers hadn't accomplished since March 2002. They've outscored opponents 17-6 during the streak.

Unlike the Oilers of the glory days, this team is winning with defense. Edmonton has allowed a League-low 16 non-shootout goals, and permitted more than two in a game just once. After 12 games last season, the Oilers had surrendered 39 goals, including three or more eight times.

While No. 1 draft pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has gotten a lot of the attention with 5 goals and 11 points, it's the oldest Oiler, goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, who's been the real difference-maker. He's 6-0-2 in eight starts with an unreal 0.98 goals-against average, a .963 save percentage and two shutouts -- a far cry from last season's 10-32-4 record, 3.40 GAA and .890 save percentage.

Hat's on -- Where have all the hat tricks gone?

Toronto's Joffrey Lupul scored three goals in the second period of Wednesday night's 5-3 victory at New Jersey, making him only the fourth player in the season's first four weeks to ring up a hat trick.

The three hat tricks in October's 159 games were a huge drop from the 12 put up by NHL shooters in 156 games during the first month of last season.

Saturday in the Big Apple -- The Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers have been battling each other since 1926, so a Saturday night meeting between the two is nothing out of the ordinary. But the location is.

The Canadiens come to Madison Square Garden for only the 11th Saturday visit in what will be their 303rd trip to New York. It's just the third Saturday game between the teams in New York since 1964. In contrast, the teams have met 194 times on Sunday night in New York.

The Rangers pay a return visit two weeks from now in their 303rd regular-season trip to Montreal -- and the 203rd to be played on a Saturday night.

Practice makes perfect -- Whether it's with Atlanta or Winnipeg, goaltender Ondrej Pavelec's secret to success seems to be to face a lot of shots. Pavelec faced 42 shots Monday night and responded by leading the Jets to a 4-3 shootout win. He's now faced 40 or more shots 21 times in his career and has 13 wins and four overtime/shootout losses -- but when facing fewer than 40 shots, he's just 31-51-13. Pavelec has gone exactly one year without a regulation loss when facing 40 or more shots (Nov. 4, 2010 vs. Columbus), and has won the last eight times the opposition has taken 40 or more shots, including both times this season.
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