Game nights have been wildly entertaining and the pace of play has been phenomenal early in the 2009-10 NHL season.
The early-season individual surprises are typically plentiful, but made all the more interesting in this, an Olympic year.
The inability to predict where so many teams might be heading is intriguing, to say the least.
And the number of incredibly soft/bad/fluky/outrageous goals has you laughing one moment, and shaking your head the next.
Welcome to late October; where down teams are up, up teams are down, and one unfortunate common denominator -- injuries -- is back.
I know we go through this every year, but doesn't it seem like this time around it's worse?
When a coach, player, or manager trots out the cliché, "Well, every team is dealing with them", they are almost 100-percent right.
While not every team is dealing with the same magnitude of trauma, sometimes it needs to be spelled out just how widespread the injury bug is spreading.
By my count, through Wednesday's games, we are looking at more than three teams' worth of players that have, are, or will miss some (or sometimes significant portions) of this season.
And even the "short-term" ailments can't be swept aside, with the knowledge that once bitten, the injury bug can linger, re-appear or wreak havoc down the road.
So, in an effort to catch your attention, here's a look at the all-injured teams of October. Yes, some players have returned, BUT you can't replay the games they have missed.
-Marc Savard -Milan Lucic
-Pierre-Marc Bouchard-Cal Clutterbuck
-Colin Wilson-James Van Riemsdyk
-Adam Mair-Torrey Mitchell
-Jason Arnott -Martin Havlat
-Pavol Demitra -J.P. Dumont
-Mike Modano-Erik Cole
-Wayne Primeau-Steve Ott
-Pavel Datsyuk-Johan Franzen
-Brad Richards-Fredrik Modin
Tomas Fleishmann-Blair Betts-Boyd Gordon
Pretty incredible isn't it?
And that doesn't include Jonathon Toews, Brent Seabrook
, and Tim Gleason
, all of whom were banged up Wednesday night.
Best early-season coaching performance has to go to Joe Sacco in Colorado.
It seems like a no-brainer because the Avalanche is 6-1-2 through 9 games.
But the big reason is because of Sacco's willingness to play the schedule, and not over-think things.
Only once during the just completed seven-game road trip did the Avs play on back-to-back days. Recognizing he has a goaltender that has a lot to prove, and the fact that points early are as good than points late, he has played Craig Anderson
in every game and ended up a remarkable 4-1-2.
I don't know how many other coaches, who seem obsessed with a pattern of rest for their No. 1's, even in October, would have taken the same approach.
Lastly, from the graciously accepting defeat file...
The NHL Network was nominated for a 2009 Gemini Award (the Canadian equivalent of an Emmy) in the Best Sports Analysis or Commentary Program, Series or Segment category for "Brodeur: A Winner Above All," a two-hour documentary about the career and life of Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur
Here's a Duffer's Digest exclusive blog from inside the gala event earlier this week courtesy of producer Sam Cicirello
5:59 p.m. ET
– Can't wait for the awards show to start! If the NHL Network actually wins a Gemini, maybe we'll get mentioned in Duffer's Digest!
6:00 p.m. ET
– Show is starting! Really excited! If we win, I am making sure I rub the Gemini in Larry Murphy
's face. 4 Cups? Please! Melt those rings down, and it doesn't make the nose of the Gemini statuette!
6:01 p.m. ET
– Oh geez, our category is up first! I hope nobody trips going up the stairs if we actually win.
6:02 p.m. ET
– Deservedly, Michael Dodson of CBC wins the award for Hockey Day in Canada. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride. Are you allowed to say that if you've only lost once because you've only been nominated once?
6:03 p.m. ET
– Is there anything worse than being three minutes into an awards show knowing you have already lost?
6:04 p.m. ET
– Brodeur IS A WINNER ABOVE ALL, meaning he would be so ashamed of us right now for losing.
6:05 p.m. ET
– Murph is never going to let us hear the end of it!
6:06 p.m. ET
– If Greener was here, would he pull a Kanye West on our behalf?
6:07 p.m. ET
– So much for being the lead story during On The Fly
Congratulations to all my colleagues -- producers Sam Cicirello, Mark Jacobson, Marc Macdonald, Tom Masters and John Shannon -- for an outstanding effort.
See you next week.