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THN.com Blog: Don't get too excited over early returns

Ilya Kovalchuk and the Atlanta Thrashers finished 13th in the East last season. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Ilya Kovalchuk and the Atlanta Thrashers finished 13th in the East last season. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/NHLI via Getty Images)

So we’ve already reached the 23-game mark of the 2009-10 NHL season. Wherever has the time gone?

Hopefully, not to the heads of fans in places like Colorado, where goalie Craig Anderson put the Avs atop the Western Conference, or Atlanta, where a season-opening 6-3 win over Tampa was sparked by a three-point night by Ilya Kovalchuk, for what is likely to be a very brief stopover en route to the opposite end of the win/loss spectrum.

You hope it goes without saying, but some people need it said, anyway, so here’s me saying it: it’s far too soon to get excited – or despondent, in the case of Red Wings, Canucks and Hurricanes fans – over what you’ve seen from your favorite franchise thus far.

Remember, after the 28-game mark of last season:

• The Boston Bruins had allowed eight goals in their first two games (they allowed an average of 2.35 goals-per-game in their next 80).

• Tyler Kennedy led the Pittsburgh Penguins in scoring with two goals in as many games and was on an 82-goal pace (he went on to score 13 more).

• The Calgary Flames allowed 11 goals in their first two games (they allowed an average of 2.96 GPG the remainder of the campaign).

• The goal scoring leaders were players you’d expect to be goal scoring leaders (Dany Heatley was tied for first place in the league with three goals). But close behind were career non-snipers such as Eric Belanger (two goals in his first two games for Minnesota; 11 more the rest of the way), Trevor Daley (two goals in his first two games for Dallas; only five more tallies after that) and Wade Redden (two goals in his first three games as a Ranger; only one goal the rest of the regular season).

In sum: yes, your favorite team or player may be real. They may even be spectacular. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and commence with coronations – or character assassinations – before the candidates prove themselves deserving of it.

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FANTASY FUN
Finally, THN’s annual regular season NHL fantasy draft was conducted (with a new record of 19 entries) last Wednesday. I somehow misplaced the horseshoe that landed me first pick in last year’s draft, but I did get the eighth overall pick this time around – and as the results show, that disadvantage wasn’t enough to deny me another potential championship contender. Here’s what (very likely) will be the winning roster:

Rick Nash
Brad Boyes
Andy McDonald
Alexander Frolov
David Perron
Scott Niedermayer
Niklas Kronwall
Valtteri Filppula
Wojtek Wolski
Tuomo Ruutu

Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appear regularly in the off-season, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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