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THN.com Blog: Turning heads

Alex Ovechkin can't do it alone in Washington.

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Alex Ovechkin can't do it alone in Washington.

    Each NHL season is filled with surprises and disappointments. The trick is to not be too quick on your assessment as to which is which.

For instance, bet there were plenty of people questioning Sidney Crosby’s slow start, but Sid the Kid has found his touch and is once again challenging for the NHL scoring lead.

With one month in the books here are a few surprises and disappointments:

Surprise: I had a sense the Senators would be good, but 11-1 good? Having the best line in hockey (Alfredsson, Spezza an Heatley) and a goalie that leads the NHL in wins (Gerber with eight) certainly helps.

Disappointment: I expected lots more from the Washington Capitals. Alex Ovechkin has been pulling his weight, but no goals in 13 games for highly-touted rookie Nicklas Backstrom is a big concern.

Surprise: I have always thought of Henrik Zetterberg as a very good complimentary type; a great second-liner. I am beginning to think I sold him short. His production – 12 goals and 24 points in 14 games – is no illusion and a big reason why the Red Wings sit comfortably atop the Western Conference standings.

Disappointment: The Rangers made the biggest splash in the free agent market, signing Chris Drury and Scott Gomez last summer. But the water sound you hear now is the toilet flushing. Drury has two goals and nine points while Gomez has three goals and five points in 13 games.

Surprise: Nobody on the planet Earth predicted a fast start for the Columbus Blue Jackets, but with his skaters buying into his defensive system and goalie Pascal Leclaire enjoying a dream season (four shutouts), coach Ken Hitchcock has his club playing some pretty unbelievable hockey.

Disappointment: The Tampa Bay Lightning must think they will wake up one morning and mysteriously have better goaltending and defense. They certainly have’t made any moves to supplement either. They just don’t seem to understanding having three of the best forwards in the NHL (Lecavalier, St-Louis and Richards) is not enough to be successful

Surprise: After scoring just once in his final 20 games last season, Mats Sundin looked like he was cooked. But with eight goals and 21 points in 15 games this year, he looks fresher than a wide-eyed rookie and seems to be headed to the second 100-point season of his career.

 Disappointment: The Oilers expected a lot more than two goals and five points in 15 games from Dustin Penner when they stole him away from the Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks for more money than he was probably worth.

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