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Heatley roars to a fast start in his new home

by John Kreiser
It looks like Dany Heatley has found a comfort zone in San Jose -- one that's making life very uncomfortable for opposing goaltenders.

Heatley made news this summer for all the wrong reasons. He pushed for a trade from Ottawa, then opted not to be included in a potential deal to Edmonton. Instead, the San Jose Sharks acquired him as training camp was beginning.

If last week is any indication, Heatley has fit in just fine in San Jose.

Heatley had 5 goals and 3 assists in San Jose's three games last week, including two game-winners and a hat trick in the Sharks' home-opening 6-3 win against Columbus. His 5 goals are tied for second in the NHL and his 10 points are good for a share of the League lead.

So far, Heatley has been everything GM Doug Wilson hoped he'd be.

Five up -- Five players who are off to a fast start:

Mike Richards --
He's already regarded as one of the NHL's best two-way players; now Richards is showing signs of becoming an elite scorer. He had the season's first hat trick on Tuesday, getting all three goals in one period, and was 4-2-6 in Philadelphia's three games last week. His 6 goals are tops in the League.

Joe Thornton -- Heatley's arrival has given Thornton a shot in the arm. The former Hart Trophy winner didn't score a goal last week, but set up eight to grab a share of the scoring lead.

Henrik Sedin -- The playmaking half of the Sedin twins can also put the puck in the net -- he had 3 goals and 4 assists in three games last week. He'll face one of the biggest challenges of his career with twin brother and linemate Daniel is out with a broken foot, marking the first sustained separation of the two in their NHL careers.

Ryan Miller -- Miller is making a strong case for a berth on the U.S. Olympic Team. He allowed just one goal in winning both of his starts last week and is 2-0-1 with an 0.99 goals-against average in his first three starts for Buffalo.

Ales Kotalik -- Kotalik's signing in New York didn't get the attention that Marian Gaborik's did, but the big winger is giving the Rangers a jolt of offense. He has goals in three consecutive games and is off to a good start in his quest to surpass his career-high of 25.

Five down --
Five players who've struggled early:

Olli Jokinen -- Lost in the Calgary Flames' fast start has been the fact that Jokinen has not scored this season. After a fast start in his first couple of games as a Flame last March, he has gone 18 games, going back to last season, since his last goal.

Ryane Clowe -- While San Jose's first line has been going great, the second line hasn't. Clowe, who's being counted on for 20-plus goals this season, hasn't produced a point in the Sharks' five games.

Chuck Kobasew -- The Bruins are off to a shaky start, and one reason is the lack of production from players like Kobasew. He hasn't put up a point in Boston's first four games and is minus-3.

Tomas Vokoun -- The hero (52 saves) of Florida's season-opening win against Chicago has had a tough time since then. He's lost his next three starts, including two this past weekend in which he allowed eight goals in five periods.

Milan Michalek -- One of the two players who came to Ottawa in the deal that sent Heatley to San Jose, Michalek hasn't done anything for his new team yet. He's scoreless in four games and is minus-3.

Injuries, news and notes -- The Detroit Red Wings will have to live without their "Mule" for four months. Forward Johan Franzen, aka "Mule," will be sidelined for at least four months after tearing a knee ligament in Thursday's win against Chicago.

Out -- Vancouver took a major hit when Daniel Sedin was lost for 4-6 weeks with a broken left foot. Sedin took a shot to the foot Wednesday against Montreal. X-rays confirmed the injury, and he's got a cast. ... Buffalo defenseman Andrej Sekera left Saturday's game in the second period with an undisclosed injury and did not return. ... Boston defenseman Dennis Wideman left Saturday's game with a left shoulder injury and won't play Monday against Colorado. ... Anaheim defenseman James Wisniewski is listed as week-to-week after leaving Saturday's game with a sprained shoulder. ... The Islanders put forward Trent Hunter on IR with a torn pectoral muscle that's expected to sideline him for at least two weeks. Captain Doug Weight also missed Saturday's game with a groin problem that's bothered him since the Isles' preseason opener. ... Minnesota forward Cal Clutterbuck injured his ankle in the first period Saturday and did not return. Neither did forward Petr Sykora, who left with a groin injury. Minnesota has also been missing center Pierre-Marc Bouchard due to persistent headaches. ... Edmonton is likely to be without defenseman Sheldon Souray this week. He's sidelined with concussion symptoms after going heavily into the boards on Thursday. ... Phoenix defenseman Kurt Sauer has sat out the Coyotes' last two games with headaches. ... Toronto placed Jonas Gustavsson on the injured list with a groin injury. ... Anaheim forward Todd Marchant was helped off the ice after he slammed into the end boards behind the New York Rangers net in the third period Sunday night.

Returning -- Sean Avery was back in the lineup Sunday for the New York Rangers. He missed the Rangers' first four games with a knee injury. ... Toronto hopes to have rookie forward Viktor Stalberg back in the lineup as early as Tuesday. He's been out with a head injury sustained last Tuesday against Ottawa. ... Nashville forward J.P. Dumont (face) could return to the lineup Monday against Edmonton. ... Detroit forward Darren Helm (shoulder) is close to returning; he took part in the morning skate Saturday and could be in the lineup Tuesday night. ... Dallas forward Jere Lehtinen made his season debut Sunday night after missing the Stars' first three games with a groin problem. ... Anaheim center Petteri Nokelainen returned on Saturday after missing the first nine days of the season with a groin problem.

Still out -- Nashville forward Colin Wilson, battling a groin injury, took part in the morning skate Saturday and is getting closer to returning. ... St. Louis has placed Barret Jackman on the injured list with a sprained ankle. He will be out at least one week, but the Blues list his status as week-to-week. ... San Jose center Joe Pavelski will miss at least another week after having a "minor procedure" on his foot after blocking a shot last week. ... Atlanta placed defenseman Boris Valabik on the injured list after he underwent undergoing ankle surgery last week. He's expected to miss 4-6 weeks.

The week ahead -- It's another busy week, though the entire League gets a day off next Sunday.

Games to watch:

Toronto at New York Rangers (Oct. 12) --
The Rangers play at home for the second night in a row and host the Leafs for the first of two meetings this week. The teams meet again Saturday night in Toronto.

Nashville at Dallas (Oct. 14) -- The Stars return from a road trip to face the same opponent they played before they left; Dallas' first two home games are both against Nashville, which doesn't return to the American Airlines Center for the rest of the season.

Colorado at Montreal (Oct. 15) -- At long last (if you're a Montreal fan), the Canadiens finally play their home opener. The Habs are happy to be home: They opened the season with five in a row on the road, ending with three losses in Western Canada.

Boston at Dallas (Oct. 16) -- In contrast to the Canadiens, who haven't been home yet, the Bruins play on the road for the first time this season after starting the season with five in a row at home.

Carolina at New Jersey (Oct. 17) -- The Hurricanes return to the Prudential Center for the first time since last April, when they scored twice in the final 1:20 of Game 7 to eliminate the Devils from the first round of the playoffs.

Tough week ahead:
Colorado Avalanche --
It's Original Six week for the Avs, who visit Boston, Toronto, Montreal and Detroit as they continue a seven-game trip that began last week with losses in Nashville and Chicago.

Los Angeles Kings --
The Kings play four times on the road this week, starting with an afternoon game Monday on Long Island, followed by trips to New York, Detroit and Columbus.

Minnesota Wild -- The Wild continue their road trip with three games in four nights, starting in Anaheim before heading to Edmonton and Vancouver.

Easy week ahead:

Columbus Blue Jackets --
The Jackets survived a Western trip in which they were the guests for three different home openers. They get to catch their breath this week, with home games against Calgary and Los Angeles.

Montreal Canadiens -- The road-weary Canadiens finally get to go home after opening with five in a row on the road, including last week's trip to Western Canada. They have four days off before playing their home opener Thursday against Colorado and hosting Ottawa two days later.

Philadelphia Flyers -- After blowing a 2-0 lead in Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss to Anaheim on Saturday, the Flyers will have lots of time for practice this week -- a road game at Florida is the only game on the schedule.
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