It's a pity the Stanley Cup isn't up for grabs on December 1st.
If it were, the Boston Bruins would have a spot in the Finals as the Eastern Conference representative.
But following a month where the Bruins lost only once in regulation, the Bruins (16-4-4) sit atop the conference with 36 points. The New York Rangers (17-7-2) also have 36 points, but have played two more games than the B's.
Some of the highlights included a pair of wins against the long-time nemesis Montreal Canadiens, and victories against a trio of Original Six rivals (Chicago, Detroit, and twice against Toronto).
Here's a brief recap:
Nov. 1- The first big test of November came in a battle against the Dallas Stars, a perennial contender in the Western Conference. Dallas outshot the Beantowners 21-5 in the second period, but it was Boston ahead 2-1 on the scoreboard after 40 minutes.
The Bruins, however, turned a close contest into a rout with three third-period goals, pounding the Stars 5-1 in a penalty-filled affair. B's netminder Tim Thomas finished with 35 saves, and Marco Sturm found the net twice, scoring the first and last goals of the game (Since the loss, the Stars have fallen all the way to last in the conference, having won just three of 11 thus far in the month of November).
Nov. 6 - Blake Wheeler doubled his NHL career goal total in one game, scoring a hat trick in a 5-2 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Wheeler, who changed his uniform number from 42 to 26 prior to the game, scored once in each period, including an empty-netter with 53 seconds remaining to seal the win for Boston.
Captain Zdeno Chara, playing in his 700th career contest, also scored a goal late in the third, giving the winners a 4-1 lead. Tim Thomas stopped 34 shots for the B's.
Nov. 8- In another big test, the Bruins came out with a 3-1 win against the Northeast-leading Buffalo Sabres. The Bruins spotted the Sabres a 1-0 lead before rallying on goals by Dennis Wideman, Chuck Kobasew, and Marc Savard.
Sabres goalie Ryan Miller kept his team in it with 37 stops, including 16 in a scoreless third period, but it wasn't enough. With the win, Boston moved into a first-place tie with Buffalo in the division with 19 points.
Nov. 12- The Bruins got goals from Blake Wheeler and P.J. Axelsson in the shootout, as Boston won 2-1 in Chicago for their seventh win in eight games. Marco Sturm scored in regulation for the B's, and Tim Thomas was stellar with 31 saves, including 18 in the first period and a penalty shot in overtime. The Blackhawks had gone into the game with 21 goals in their previous four outings.
Nov. 13- One night after a shootout victory in Chicago, the Bruins returned home and spanked the Canadiens 6-1, ending a 12-game regular-season losing streak (0-10-2) against Montreal.
Marco Sturm added two more goals, with his powerplay tallies late in the first and early in the second giving Boston a 4-0 lead. Stephane Yelle chipped in with two goals as well, and Manny Fernandez made 27 saves.
Nov. 19- Marc Savard had four points, and Zdeno Chara and Chuck Kobasew each scored twice, as Boston beat Buffalo once again, 7-4. After falling behind 4-2 midway through the first period, the Bruins scored five unanswered goals the rest of the way, chasing Ryan Miller. Patrice Bergeron, who had two assists, picked up his 200th career point in the NHL.
Nov. 21- The B's peppered Tomas Vokoun with 21 shots in the second period in a 4-2 win over Florida. The Bruins, with the victory, moved into a first-place tie in the Eastern Conference overall standings.
It was Boston's 11th win in 13 games, giving the B's 30 points on the season. Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron, Phil Kessel, and David Krejci scored for Boston, which won its seventh consecutive contest at home.
Nov. 22- On a night when the Canadiens retired Patrick Roy's No. 33 jersey before the game, it was Tim Thomas who made 33 stops, plus three more in the shootout as Boston came away with a 3-2 win against the Habs. The victory gave Boston 32 points, tops in the Eastern Conference (The New York Rangers, who had 30 points, had lost earlier in the day in Ottawa).
Tom Kostopoulous' goal with 3:05 remaining, tied the game 2-2 for Montreal, but the Bruins didn't allow a shot in OT, and Blake Wheeler put the B's up for good on the first shot of the shootout. The Habs outshot the B's 18-5 in the third.
Nov. 28- The B's scored seven goals for the second time this month, downing the New York Islanders 7-2. Boston scored five times in the third to turn a 2-1 game into a blow-out, with Blake Wheeler and David Krejci scoring 10 seconds apart early in the period to make it 4-1. Manny Fernandez made 22 saves, as the B's improved to 10-1-1 in November and won their eighth straight at home.
Nov. 29- The Bruins beat the defending Cup champion the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 for their ninth straight win at TD Banknorth Garden, capping their best month in three decades (when they had 24 points in Dec. 1978).
Boston finished November with a staggering 11-1-1 record. Blake Wheeler and David Krejci each had a goal and an assist for the Beantowners, who jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the midway point of the second. Manny Fernandez stopped 29 shots.
With 36 points, the Bruins sit in top spot in the Eastern Conference, just five behind the San Jose Sharks (20-3-1) for the overall lead in the NHL. With the next half-dozen contests against weaker Southeast Division opponents (Lightning twice, Thrashers twice, Panthers, Capitals), can the B's continue their winning ways?