With November wrapped up and as we all charge into the holiday season and December, let’s take a gander across the organization to highlight the top players of the month of November at the various levels.
NHL Player of the Month: Tristan Jarry
It’s been a hell of a calendar year for Tristan Jarry. He started 2021 as a first time NHL starting goalie, cast into a somewhat unknown future as being “the guy”. A down, then up regular season culminated in becoming an absolute pariah by the time May rolled around to see a disastrous playoff and truly one of the worst individual performances in a playoff series in recent memory. (Not to pile on, or anything).
But after a summer to reset, reflect and improve, Jarry has gone from pariah to being the backbone of the team. Without Jarry’s steady play, a lineup decimated by injury and illness might well have fallen apart early in the season and be in a very hopeless position already.
In November Jarry operated with a 7-3-3 record, a .937 save%, a 1.88 GAA and posted three shutouts. He had a lengthy shutout streak going, was the NHL’s second star of the week for the last week of the month, and has been absolutely essential for the Penguins.
Tristan Jarry: brick wall— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 30, 2021
Let's take a look at November's Save of the Month ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/nKYET7PXKD
Honorable mention: Jake Guentzel
Guentzel has easily been the most impressive skater on the team for a while this season. He was the Pens’ leading scorer with 16 points (9G+7A) in 15 November games. Only two other players even cracked double digits, and they weren’t particularly close (Evan Rodrigues, 11; Kasperi Kapanen, 10). Guentzel was also ridiculously consistent, recording a point in 14 out of the 15 games, only being held off the scoresheet in the month on the 11/11 game against Florida. You can set your watch to Guentzel coming through offensively for the Penguins right now.
Player to watch: Sidney Crosby
In a way, it’s always Sid as the player to watch, but this next month will be very telling. Crosby hasn’t really looked like Crosby since coming back from COVID after coming back from wrist surgery. And, it’s reasonable and understandable why that would be impossible to hit the ground running like everyone else after such layoffs.
After scoring just two points (1G+1A) in six games in November, Crosby may be coming around — he tallied five points (1G+4A) in the last three games of November to close the month on a three-game scoring streak. He’s since made it a four-game streak in the 12/1 Edmonton game. Getting Crosby back to being Crosby would be the most important and comforting things for the Pens in December.
AHL Player of the Month: Jordy Bellerive
There aren’t a ton of players standing out in Wilkes-Barre, but Bellerive is a guy who always can catch an eye. He had a team-high six points in November (2G+4A) and has played center or wing and up and down the lineup for the AHL Penguins. It feels like he’s been around the organization forever but is still just 22-years old. It doesn’t seem like Bellerive has a clearly defined niche or role to suggest what his future might hold in the NHL and there are still some yet to be answered questions (is he a pesty energy 4th line winger? A center? Is there some offensive upside there?), but Bellerive is a player who manages to bring it every night for Wilkes.
European Prospect of the Month: Calle Clang
With one top goalie prospect, Joel Blomqvist, has been injured this month and Kirill Tankov only recording one assist in Russia this mont, there’s not much else to go with than Pittsburgh’s OTHER top goalie prospect in Calle Clang. Clang went 0-3-0 for the SHL’s Rogle since the last prospect update, but has slightly improved his season save% in November. Not a banner month or too much excitement in the Pens’ European prospect pool, but that will change soon. Clang is on Sweden’s training camp roster for the World Junior Championship and expected to compete for a starting job in the upcoming tournament.
North American Prospect of the Month: Raivis Ansons
With fellow CHL Penguin prospect Lukas Svejkovsky cooling off a bit on his scoring lately (just five points in seven games since last Pensburgh prospect update), Ansons has been the most productive non-pro prospect for the organization in the last month. He’s scored 3G+9A in the last nine games, upping him to second on his team (and a higher points/game rate, Ansons missed early in the junior season due to a NHL training camp injury).