Now up and running, the first month of the highly anticipated 2011-2012 NHL season has come to a close. As is common in the first month of any sport, there are always some surprises, and there are those who continue to shine year after year. October’s fantasy results echo these notions, but so far this season, it seems as if the underdogs have been the ones who came out on top for the month of October.
The first month of the season has already been a shocking one for most hockey fans with the 2010-2011 Stanley Cup Champions in last place in the East and the back-to-back losing Edmonton Oilers mounting the West with an astonishing 7-2-2 record. But the biggest shock of all is the sluggish starts to the season of the previous Rocket Richard Trophy winners, Steven Stamkos, Alex Ovechkin, and Corey Perry. Defenseman, Keith Yandle, Mike Green, along with goaltenders Roberto Luongo and Tim Thomas are also slow to match their last season statistics.
With that said, the following is the October All-Star fantasy line-up:
Joe Pavelski- C -San Jose Sharks
With snipers Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi being shipped off to Minnesota in the off season, Pavelski has been bumped up to the first line playing alongside superstar Joe Thorton, which gives him a 8-5-13 record in 10 games.
Thomas Vanek- LW -Buffalo Sabres
The often underrated Thomas Vanek is leading the Sabres and tied for 2nd in the NHL in scoring this season with 15 points (8-7-15). The 1-2 punch of Vanek and Pominville will be leaned on this season as the Sabres are serious contenders for the Stanley Cup. While it’s unlikely he will keep this torrent pace up (66-57-123 point) it would not be a stretch to see Vanek hit the 40 goal mark for the 3rd time in his career.
Phil Kessel- RW -Toronto Maple Leafs
Kessel is off to an impressive start leading the league with 18 points in 11 games (10-8-18) and being awarded NHL’s MVP for the month of October. With Kessel having the best month of his career, he catapulted the hapless Toronto Maple Leafs to the top in the Northeast division and 3rd in the Eastern Conference.
Sheldon Souray- D -Dallas Stars
Souray has put up notable numbers for someone who spent the 2010-2011 season with the Hersey Bears of the AHL. In the off-season he signed a one year deal with the Dallas Star for 1.65-million with hopes of reviving his NHL career which he proved in the month of October with 8 points in 11 games and 27 penalty minutes.
Erik Karlsson- D -Ottawa Senators
After a break out sophomore season, Erik has showed that he is ready to take his talents to the next level to be among the league’s top defenseman. He leads all defenseman with 12 points in 12 games (1-11-12) and is amongst the top ten for time on ice per game averaging 25:13 minutes.
Jonathan Quick- G -Los Angeles Kings
Quick has brought solidity and consistency to a team who is rising into a Western Conference power-house. With his .947 save percentage and 1.52 Goals Against Average, he is the Kings key to success in the run for the Stanley Cup. With Quick’s league leading three shut-outs in which he captured in consecutive games, it earned him a Kings franchise record.
Jason Spezza- C -Ottawa Senators
After a few early blowouts to the young Senators, it has been the veteran who has led this team up the rankings in the Eastern Conference. With an impressive 6-9-15 record, the alternate captain is on track to match the notable statistics of his early days with the Senators.
Daniel Sedin- LW -Vancouver Canucks
For the struggling Vancouver Canucks fresh off a Stanley Cup run, there has been one player who didn’t let the hangover take control. With a 5-9-14 record, there is no surprise that Daniel Sedin continues to challenge the hockey world as a scoring threat with every step he takes.
Claude Giroux- RW -Philadelphia Flyers
Giroux had a hot start last month tallying major points alongside the newest Flyer, Jaromir Jagr. With ex-captain Mike Richards and all-star Jeff Carter out of the mix, Giroux has taken the reigns as the teams leader notching a remarkable 15 points in 11 games (7-8-15).
Kris Letang- D -Pittsburgh Penguins
With the absence of Sidney Crosby and the ups and down of Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang has stepped up to the plate and caused some serious damage in his 11 games played with a 1-10-11 record. His offense has exploded and his defense has been exactly where it should be. With his Physicality, and excellent transitions, Letang’s name is once again in the mix for the Norris Trophy.
Dion Phaneuf- D -Toronto Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs captain is off to a remarkable start to the season giving great hope to a previously luckless Toronto team. This hard nose defenseman has seen spike in his numbers, much like his early days in Calgary. Phaneuf leads all the Leafs in assists (9), plus/minus (+7) and time on ice (26:49) assisting them to the top spot in the Northeast Division.
Nikolai Khabibulin- G -Edmonton Oilers
16 years ago Nikolai made his NHL debut with the Winnipeg Jets before moving to Phoenix two years later. A lot has happened in the roller coaster career of the Russian netminder, from miserable seasons, to a Stanley Cup championship with Tampa in 2004. Now the Jets are back in Winnipeg, and apparently so is Khabibulins impressive game, posting a 5-0-2 record with a 1.12 GAA and .960 save percentage. The NHL vet is enjoying the best success in his NHL career and as a result has boosted the Edmonton Oilers to 2nd place in the western conference.
Keep a look out for Novembers Fantasy All-star team. These are a few I have in mind:
Anze Kopitar- C- LAK
Nicklas Backstrom- C- WSH
Teemu Selanne- RW- ANA
Jason Pominville- RW- BUF
Tomas Fleischmann-LW- FLA
James Neal- LW- PIT
Brian Campbell- D- FLA
Alexander Edler- D- VAN
Jason Garrison-D- FLA
Shea Weber- D- NSH
Kari Lehtonen- G- DAL
Ryan Miller- G- BUF
We’d love to hear feedback on who your fantasy picks for the month of November would be! Feel free to post them in the comment box below!
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