Twenty-eight days from today, somewhere around 9:30 p.m., the Maple Leafs will have completed their 20th game of the season with a home start against the Dallas Stars.
Any chance we can wait at least until then to make any firm pronouncements about the quality, or lack thereof, of this year's Leafs?
Moreover, any chance Nazem Kadri can be permitted to play 20 games in the minors before he reverts back to being the only person capable of saving the Leafs?
Seriously, folks. I mean, I get that the Leafs were hammered by the Flyers on Saturday night in Philly, although it's probably useful to remember this was a Philadelphia squad that came within two victories of taking home the Stanley Cup last spring.
Stinker? Sure, and it deserved to be identified as such. The Leafs probably have at least another 10 of those coming this season, and the same will be the case for the majority of NHL clubs in this terribly bunched league.
Look around. There's no shortage of teams off to more disappointing starts than the Leafs. You can start with New Jersey, check out what's happening in Ottawa and notice that the Oilers have lost four straight since winning their first two and No. 1 draft choice Taylor Hall has yet to score a goal.
Think they're ready to declare Hall a bust already? Don't think so.
Even the good teams are having bad nights. San Jose is struggling and got hammered by Calgary on Sunday. Chicago lost to Columbus.
And the best team in the league? Well, Nashville, of course. Everybody knew that was going to happen, right?
Fact is, as the league sorts itself out, it's not entirely clear whether the Leafs are improved or not. I had 'em down for 85 points, and right now their record is better than that.
They're still in first in their division. Their last four games included a terrific OT win in New York, a dominant performance in a home ice OT loss to the Islanders, a weak effort at the ACC in a defeat to the Rangers and Saturday's stinker.
So in four game, two good ones, two bad ones. Three of a possible eight points. Not the consistency good teams have to have, but not quite Armageddon, either.
Defensively, this team looks significantly improved, and Luke Schenn looks like a player reborn on the back end. Contract years do funny things, and remember, if they'd done the right thing and sent him back to junior as an 18-year-old, they wouldn't be facing the conundrum of a new contract until the summer of 2012. But that ship has sailed.
The challenge for Ron Wilson is going to be to coax enough offence out of this group without having it fall into its old, bad defensive habits, and the goaltending is going to have to stay sturdy. Maybe Jonas Gustavsson could play a little more than he's been playing.
Now, of course, there's nothing wrong with fans or the media criticizing the team after a bad game. Nothing at all. But a couple of bad games does not mean this team will finish 29th again just as four straight wins to start the season shouldn't have had anyone dreaming of engraving the team's name on the Presidents Trophy.
This is clearly a squad still trying to find itself. It was never going to be a Stanley Cup year, but always one in which scratching and clawing to make the post-season was going to be the result. Individually, games are going to be good or bad, but it won't be at the very least until the 20-game mark when one can draw any useful conclusions.
And Kadri? Let the kid learn with the Marlies. There's no rush, and while he's the easy solution to point to for every armchair quarterback, every day he serves his apprenticeship in the AHL is an investment in his future.