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A Change Is Gonna Come: Uncovering Early Season Frauds

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We've reached right around the 1/10th pole of the NHL season, and as always there are several surprises around the NHL. The Colorado Avalanche, expected to be one of the worst — if not the worst — teams in the league, are off to a 6-1-1 start. Rangers rookie defenseman Michael Del Zotto has helped power the Blueshirts to the top of standings. And people are talking about Phoenix for reasons other than their "situation."

While many of these revelations may turn out to be the real thing, there are several that have big, flashing lights all around them. So without further ado, let's a take a team-by-team look around the league and say farewell to the players and trends that are sure to fizzle out in the coming weeks. (All statistics are through Tuesday's games)

Anaheim: Here's some good news for the Ducks: Bobby Ryan will shake out of his sophomore slump that has him with just one goal and one assist through the season's first seven games.

Atlanta: The fallacy in Blueland? Winning. The Thrashers are off to a 4-1-1 start, but only Ilya Kovalchuk (seven) and Rich Peverley (four) have scored more than once. Plus, the longer it takes for Kovalchuk to sign an extension, the worse the tension.

Boston: The injuries are mounting, but I certainly don't expect the B's — and defending Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas — to continue giving up 3.29 goals per game. Thomas' numbers — 2-3, 3.20 goal-against average, .896 save percentage — will improve, and so will the Bruins' win total.

Buffalo: Rookie Tyler Myers looks like the real deal on the Sabres blueline, but don't expect the lanky d-man to continue his point parade (1-3-4 in six games), especially since he has no points on the power play despite getting more than three minutes of ice time a night with the man advantage.

Calgary: Rene Bourque (4-7-11 in nine games) will stop will stop putting points up like Ray Bourque. The Flames winger is averaging 1.22 points per game — compared to just a hair more than half a point per game over his career.

Carolina: This has been hashed over again and again here at Canes Country, but Eric Staal will get things turned around. Want proof? His shooting percentage (7.7 percent this year vs. 11.5 for his career) is way down, as are his shots per game (3.71 this year vs. 4.54 last year). He's due.

Chicago: Say goodbye to Cristobal Huet's reign as an NHL No. 1. Last year he lost the top job to Nikolai Khabibulin, and this time around it looks like Antti Niemi is poised to snatch it away. The early season numbers for Huet are not good — 2-2-1, 3.25 goals-against average, .844 save percentage — while Niemi (3-0, 1.73, .912) has looked spectacular.

Colorado: I could find a million things that will go downhill eventually for the Avs, but I can guarantee they won't continue to convert on the power play at a league-high 30.3 percent, especially when they were tied for 25th last year (15.7) with Ryan Smyth and Joe Sakic in the lineup at least part of the time.

Columbus: Like Colorado, you can't expect to continue having extreme special team success (an absurd 96.6 percent penalty kill) for the whole season. But more importantly, I expect the wins to stop flowing with underrated Jan Hejda out of action for more than a month. In the team's first five games, he was a plus-8 and a workhorse for Ken Hitchcock.

Dallas: I fully expect the Stars to be firmly in the playoffs by Christmas. There's just too much to like in Big D not to think this team will be a contender: from a healthy Brendan Morrow; to young emerging stars James Neal and Jamie Benn; to a young defense that doesn't seem to be missing Sergei Zubov.

Detroit: An easy one: Pavel Datsyuk won't be goalless forever, injury or no injury.

Edmonton: New coach Pat Quinn has the Oilers buying in to his system, but you can't expect the Copper & Blue to continue to score 3.62 goals a game when they're averaging just 24 shots on goal.

Florida: It's not looking good in Florida, but expect David Booth (1-0-1, minus-5) and Cory Stillman (0-1-1) to get rolling.

Los Angeles: I'm officially putting an end to the "Jack Johnson, NHL superstar" parade. Johnson is severely outclassed by teammate Drew Doughty, but he's also — simply — not playing well. He's managed a goal, two assists and a team-worst minus-5 for an improved Kings team, is logging 2:24 of penalty kill time for a horrendous PK unit (68.4 percent so far), and has been on the ice for just seven goals for vs. 14 goals against.

Minnesota: Chuck Kobasew is already en route, but the biggest change coming to the Wild is more roster overhaul. Minnesota is getting just .33 goals per one goal scored by opponents during five-on-five play, and Brent Burns, James Sheppard, Owen Nolan and P-M Bouchard are all either underachieving or hurt.

Montreal: Carey "Jesus" Price is more likely to be dragged through the streets of Montreal than be anointed the Habs' savior at this point. His numbers are terrible (2-4, 3.36 goals-against average, .886 save percentage) and Jaroslav Halak is emerging as the real deal (2-1-1, 2.27, .907). Try "Scary" Price instead.

Nashville: The Predators may not ever be good this year, but I know they won't continue to have their special teams operate at an abysmal 70.9 percent combined (66.7 percent PK, 4.2 percent PP).

New Jersey: You can have Milan Lucic — I'll take David Clarkson any day of the week. Right here we're putting an end to the idea of Clarkson as a fighter. No one does more with 14 minutes a night than this Devil.

New York Islanders: Easy pickings here. Forward Matt Moulson has benefitted from playing with phenom John Tavares. Don't expect him to continue his point-per-game (4-3-7 in six games) pace.

New York Rangers: Marian Gaborik has played in every game. You know that won't continue.

Ottawa: In shipping out Dany Heatley, the Sens may have restored their team chemistry. But I can promise you Jarkko Ruutu (2-3-5) will not have outscored younger brother Tuomo (1-3-4) by season's end.

Philadelphia: Matt Carle is perhaps the least revered member of the Broad Street Bullies blueline, and you can bet he won't continue to pile up stats (1-7-8, plus-5) like he has through six games.

Phoenix: Dave Tippett's defense-first style will help the Desert Dogs when games this year, but even Patrick Roy can't put up numbers like Ilya Bryzgalov (5-1, 1.14 goals-against average, .953 save percentage) has for an extended period of time.

Pittsburgh: The Pens will finally feel the Cup hangover thanks to the injury to Sergei Gonchar. Pittsburgh was 18-4-4 in the regular season with Gonchar in the lineup last year — and just 27-24-5 without him.

San Jose: Who is Jason Demers? Who knows? But we do know he's won't keep putting up seven assists every nine games.

St. Louis: The Blues look like an average team right now, and that might not change. What will change is David Perron's seven-game pointless streak to start the season.

Tampa Bay: My lock of the article: Todd Fedoruk (one) will not score more goals than Vincent Lecavalier (zilcho) this season.

Toronto: The MakeBelieves will continue to be bad, but a mid-level NCAA team could do better than the 1-to-3 ratio in even-strength goals scored vs. goals against Toronto has so far.

Vancouver: Roberto Luongo is a notoriously slow starter. So his poor play out of the gate (3-5, 3.22 goals-against average, .879 save percentage) should be followed by his usual spectacular rest of the way.

Washington: I'm going to be bold on this final one: Say goodbye to Chris Clark's captaincy. Before the year is out, AO will be wearing the C.