20 biggest surprises of the NHL season

 

Roberto Luongo is still a Canuck! The Leafs are in a playoff spot! It's been a weird season. Here are the 20 biggest surprises so far.

 
 
 
 
<div id="page1">Few expected Roberto Luongo would still be a Canuck in March.</div>
 

Few expected Roberto Luongo would still be a Canuck in March.

Photograph by: Darryl Dyck, The Canadian Press

 
<div id="page1">Few expected Roberto Luongo would still be a Canuck in March.</div>
At the time of this writing, the Ducks are 22-5-4, good for third in the entire NHL. Who saw that coming?
People expected the Blackhawks to be good, but nobody expected them to go 24 games -- literally half the shortened season -- before their first regulation loss, an NHL record.
The Canucks have had one of the league's best powerplays for a few years now. This season? It's 29th in the NHL with an abysmal 13.9 conversion rate. How did that happen?
Ryane Clowe has taken 59 shots for the San Jose Sharks. He's yet to score a single goal. He's now 25 shots away from Craig Adams' dubious record for most shots without scoring by a forward.
The second best team in the Eastern Conference? The Montreal Canadiens. Who knew?
The Toronto Maple Leafs are in a playoff spot! The Leafs were the only club that failed to make the playoffs even once between lockouts. But barring a major collapse, they'll be 1-for-1 coming out of this most recent work stoppage. That's a surprise.
Cory Conacher is the NHL's leading rookie scorer with 23 points in 32 points. Most assumed this would be Nail Yakupov or Vladimir Tarasenko, but Conacher's been on top all year.
Coming into the 2013 season, most expected the Northwest Division be an improved group, as every same save the Canucks looked improved. Instead, the Oilers, Flames and Avalanche have been as hapless as ever.
After starting the season 7-0, the San Jose Sharks surprised everyone by losing their next seven. Through 32 games, the perennial powerhouse sits ninth in the West.
Two surprises in one: who expected Sergei Bobrovsky to be a Vezina candidate, and who expected the Columbus Blue Jackets to be challenging for a playoff spot in the West?
Even with the Lightning's 13-18-1 record through 32 games, the firing of Guy Boucher Sunday was unexpected.
The St. Louis Blues' strength last season was their goaltending, and this year has been no different. But the surprise is that it's been rookie Jake Allen, not Brian Elliott or Jaroslav Halak, that's been the standout.
There are a lot of unfamiliar names among the NHL's top ten scorers. Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos... but there's also one very unexpected name: Nazem Kadri, who has 34 points through 32 games, good for a tie for 8th.
In 2011-12, the Florida Panthers were the surprise winners of the Southeast Division, and most expected them to contend for a playoff spot again this season. Instead, they've been dreadful. The Panthers are presently the league's worst team.
When Ryan Suter and Shea Weber were split up in the offseason, we expected both to struggle to adjust to new partners. But the quickest to adjust has been Suter, who has to be considered a Norris front-runner at this point. Few predicted he'd be more successful one on his own, and even fewer predicted he'd have the Minnesota Wild atop the Northwest Division in March.
After an excellent 2011-12, hopes were high for the Philadelphia Flyers. Instead, they've won just 13 of 31 games. They sit 13th in the East and 27th in the conference.
The Southeast division leaders at the time of this writing? The Winnipeg Jets. No one was predicting that.
While they've clawed their way out of the basement and now sit just two points back of the eighth playoff spot, the fact that the Capitals have spent so much of this season in the basement has been a big surprise.
5th in the East, the Ottawa Senators are better than anyone expected them to be, but what makes this even more surprising is that they're doing it with Erik Karlsson done for the season. They've also suffered extended injuries to Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek, and Craig Anderson. Somehow, each setback just makes them better.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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