Start the new NHL season afresh

Sam McCaig takes a look at those who have put a poor 2009/10 season firmly behind them.

Tim Thomas, centre, the Boston Bruins’ goaltender, has registered three shutouts this season with just three goals conceded as he puts a disappointing 2009/10 campaign behind him.
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We all have experienced bad days. Or months. Or years. What is important, according to the self-help gurus, is learning from mistakes and moving on to new challenges.

Here are some players - and a team - who were keen to forget about the 2009/10 season and make a fresh start. So far, so good.

1. Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins - The veteran goalie, who plays an unorthodox, flopping style, spent most of his 20s in Europe after no NHL team would take him. The Bruins gave him a shot in his early 30s, and the results were beautiful despite his ugly style. Thomas won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goalie in 2008/09.

But then injuries struck and Tuukka Rask arrived, and Thomas endured a hard-luck, bench-bound season. His career, however, has been marked by a refusal to quit, and Thomas has been brilliant thus far this season, with victories in all six of his starts, three shutouts and three goals allowed.

2. Andrei Kostitsyn, Montreal Canadiens - His talent level has never been questioned but his work ethic and consistency were sore points. With six goals and 10 points in 11 games, Kostitsyn is creating chances and contributing offensively for the northeast-leading Canadiens.

3. Atlanta Thrashers - The NHL experience has been a rough ride for the Thrashers. One play-off appearance in 10 seasons; woeful attendance; shoddy drafting; ownership court battles and an inability to attract first-rate free agents. But these Thrashers have a not-so-secret weapon: an abundance of former Chicago Blackhawks, full of confidence after a Stanley Cup championship. Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd especially, along with depth players Ben Eager and Brent Sopel, have given Atlanta some much-needed swagger and helped the Thrashers climb into the play-off mix in the East.

4. Jack Johnson, Los Angeles Kings - He was solid last season, with eight goals and 36 points in 80 games, good numbers for a big defenceman who plays with a physical edge.

But the Kings gave up 15 more goals than they scored with Johnson on the ice, and they needed better from him, especially with Drew Doughty, their star defender, sidelined by concussion. Johnson has delivered, with eight assists in 11 games. He also mans the point on the power play.

5. Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks - The Swede missed 19 games last season while his brother, Henrik, claimed the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer and the Hart Trophy as MVP. Daniel needed to step forward to keep the sibling rivalry intact. He has.

Daniel has had points in all his games this season, including seven goals. And the MVP Henrik? Zero goals. Of course, the premier playmaker has had 11 assists so far.