Bill Lindsay looks at the five teams that have surprised people and have surpassed expectations this year. Nashville Predators:
Playing in maybe the best division in hockey (the Central Division), the Predators continue to stay right in the mix in the West. It's amazing what they do every year. They are a contender for the Cup, and I guarantee you they were no ones pick at the start of the year. This team is legit. Barry Trotz is the only coach in the history of the Preds and maximizes his team's talents every year. Florida Panthers:
All kinds of change in the summer and no one quite knew what to make of this team. A few picked the Panthers to make the playoffs but virtually no one picked them to win the division. Both are real possibilities heading into the final week of the season. Kevin Dineen got this team together quickly, and has kept them fighting strong the whole season. Phoenix Coyotes:
Ownership problems and they lost their star goalie from a year ago as Ilya Bryzgalov went to Philadelphia. Many thought this spelled doom for Phoenix this season. Somehow they managed to be in the thick of it in the West. Can you name five players on the Coyotes? Not easy to even think of a couple. No stars for sure, but they get the job done. Dave Tippett is one of the games best coaches. Ottawa Senators:
This was a supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Sens. They just rebuilt much faster than anyone thought. Everyone had this team at the bottom of the East at the start of the season. Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson have been great and Erik Karlsson has emerged as the game's best offensive defenseman. Ottawa is in the playoffs to the surprise of many. St Louis Blues:
They had some talent on their roster but were thought to be a borderline playoff team at best. They floundered out of the gate and it looked like the Blues might have a long year ahead of them. They fired their coach and brought in Ken Hitchcock and now they might win the President's Trophy as the best regular season team. Hitchcock is the Coach of the Year. The Blues will go down this year as one of the best defensive teams in the history of the game. No one could of predicted this from the Blues.
Author: Bill Lindsay | FloridaPanthers.com