Let's see how San Jose Sharks left winger Dany Heatley handles this delicious new career challenge. With the Sharks' power play stuck in an early season slump, coach Todd McLellan bumped Heatley down to the No.2 unit for last Saturday's game against the New York Islanders.
Predictably, the move to reunite last year's top unit of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Devin Setoguchi paid immediate dividends as the Sharks went an efficient 2-for-3 with the man advantage, with Thornton turning in a virtuoso performance. Heatley, remember, demanded a trade of out Ottawa last season after his role was "diminished" by Senators' coach Cory Clouston, in part because he was shifted to the second power-play unit.
Since pouting in his new NHL home is not a viable option, Heatley's patience - and the ability to bite his tongue - will be put to its first test of the new season, as the Sharks' six-game trip continues tonight in Manhattan, against the streaking New York Rangers.
By the numbers
Career shutouts by New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur following last Saturday's 2-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes, leaving him one shy of the career record held by Hall of Famer Terry Sawchuk.
Regular-season wins needed by Chris Osgood, the Detroit Red Wings' much-maligned goaltender, to become just the 10th netminder in NHL history to reach the 400-victory plateau. Osgood's next action is Thursday in Phoenix against the Coyotes.
Goals by Jonathan Cheechoo of the Ottawa Senators and Vincent Lecavalier of the Tampa Bay Lightning thus far. Cheechoo and Lecavalier were the 2006 and 2007 winners of the Rocket Richard trophy, respectively, awarded annually to the NHL's goal-scoring leader. Both need to wait until Thursday to end their droughts, when Cheechoo's Senators face the Nashville Predators and Lecavalier's Lightning play the San Jose Sharks.
Burke's frightening week:
The Toronto Maple Leafs' five-game trip, beginning next Saturday, isn't just a chance to resolve their early-season struggles away from the scrutiny of media-mad Toronto. It will be journey through general manager Brian Burke's old haunts. The trip begins with games in Vancouver and Anaheim, the last two cities Burke managed in before joining the Leafs. To accommodate friends and family, Burke has rented private boxes in the Canucks' and Ducks' arenas. "It's going to be an expensive trip," he says. His wife and daughters will stay over in Orange County, Calif., after the Ducks game, to celebrate Halloween, which Burke says is "a big deal in my old neighbourhood." He still owns two houses there. And no, with the Leafs off to a grim 0-6-1 start, there was no temptation to stay home and mind the shop. "I would have gone anyway," Burke said, "but the way we're playing, I'm staying with the team."
Sedin flies without familiar wing:
Henrik Sedin without his twin brother, Daniel, is a little like Sonny without Cher, or Martin without Lewis - unimaginable on one level, intriguing on another. Going solo gives the Vancouver Canucks centre a chance to prove - once and for all - that he is an NHL star in his own right, and doesn't need his brother on the wing to succeed. With Daniel out recovering from a broken foot, Henrik has been dynamite - five points in three games, with the Edmonton Oilers on tap tonight. Even though it looks as if Henrik is playing less of a give-and-go game and showing a greater willingness to take the puck to the net, he insists the key to success is to do nothing differently. "It's just me trying to play the same way," he says. "I can't change anything just because he isn't there."
I can blame only myself right now, I feel like I let the team down. I have to see this as just a bump in the road. There were times I really looked bad tonight. I didn't have it.
Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Cristol Huet after giving up the winning goal from a quirky angle to Stéphane Robidas of the Dallas Stars during Chicago's 4-3 loss last Saturday. The goal guarantees the team's goalie controversy will continue. Huet inherited the starting job this year after the Blackhawks couldn't sign free-agent Nikolai Khabibulin for salary-cap reasons. Chicago back-up Antti Niemi a perfect 3-0, while Huet is 2-2-1 and has a save percentage of .844, second-worst among goalies with three or more starts. Only Vesa Toskala of the Toronto Maple Leafs, at .812, is worse.