Phil Kessel is the NHL’s Player of the Month for October
Millions of people woke up this morning, ate a Kit Kat for breakfast, opened the door to find pumpkin shards and a M-80 casing and realized that yes, October is officially over.
And to celebrate the month that was, the National Hockey League announced that Toronto Maple Leafs RW Phil Kessel has been named October’s Player of the Month.
The decision wasn’t much of a surprise as Kessel finished atop the NHL leaderboard with 10 goals and 18 points in 11 games. Kessel also has five multiple-point games -- including two 3-point games and a season-high 4-point game on Oct. 8 against Ottawa -- and cemented his name in Leafs lore by scoring five goals in Toronto’s first three games. The only others to do that in the last 66 years? Darryl Sittler and Wendel Clark.
The runner-up to Kessel was Dallas G Kari Lehtonen, who won an NHL-best eight games while posting a 1.75 goals-against average and .947 save percentage. He was instrumental in pacing Dallas to an 8-3-0 record -- as a result, the Stars now sit atop the Pacific Division, thanks in large part to Lehtonen averaging 32 saves per game.
October’s third star was Edmonton Oilers G Nikolai Khabibulin, who has come out of nowhere (well, Tent City at Maricopa County Jail) to post a 5-0-2 record with a .902 save percentage and a league-low 1.12 GAA. In doing so, Khabibulin increased his career win total to 321, putting him 20th on the all-time list. The Bulin Wall is now just three back of Sean Burke and should he continue winning games at this rate (hey, he’s on pace for a 59-0 record this year) he could jump past Rogatien “Rogie” Vachon -- he of the 355 career victorites -- for 16th all-time.