Here are the five best surprises from the first half of 2003-04 (stats through Sunday)
BRIAN BOUCHER'S BREAKOUT
A career backup (seven shutouts over his first four NHL seasons before 2003-04), the Coyotes' netminder set a modern record last week with five straight blanks and a 332:01 scoreless streak.
THE RISE OF PAVEL DATSYUK
Everyone knew the Red Wings' center was talented, but no one expected him to be one of the league's top goal scorers (21).
The Thrashers were rocked by the auto accident that killed Dan Snyder and sidelined top scorer Dany Heatley possibly for the season, but they've hung tough near the top of the Southeast Division.
Thanks to the stellar play of netminder David Aebischer, the 23-10-7-2 Avalanche hasn't missed a beat since Patrick Roy retired.
With essentially the same roster that won 29 games in 2002-03, coach and G.M. Darryl Sutter, in his first full season, has Calgary (22-13-3-3) on track for its first playoff appearance since '95-96.