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The ten biggest surprises of 2015-16


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Here are the first 5 that I thought of:


  • Patrick Kane having over 100 points after the summer investigation
  • Mason actually won a shootout!
  • Montreal's steep decline with Price injured
  • Dallas being in contention to finish first in the west
  • The Ducks  horrid start to the season


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In no particular order, my ten:


1-- Florida Panthers winning the Atlantic Division.

I knew this team would be improved....but top of the division improved? No way! Yet there they are. A meeting between they and the Lightning in Round 2 would be sweeeeet.


2-- Edmonton Oilers looking no better than they have the last several years.

Seriously, I understand these guys still have a long way to go, but new management, McDavid added to their already nice collection of talent, conscious awareness of playing better overall team D...hey, I thought these guys at LEAST would be somewhat in contention, then maybe fall short near season's end. But no......they look like the same ol Oilers we have been looking at for years now......disappointing to say the least.


3-- Tampa Bay Lightning suffering chronic power outages when it comes to offense.

With the personnel the Bolts have, scoring goals should NOT be a problem. They can always stand to play a bit "harder" against the opposition, and the D, overall, could use more tightening up, but this team SHOULD be scoring pretty regularly. But that had not been the case all year....and it could bite them in the post season.


4-- Calgary Flames taking a MASSIVE step backwards.

Like the Oilers, I know the Flames still have lots of work to do to be a perennial contender, but this year's team looked nothing like the exciting team that made the post season last year. I expected at least they make incremental improvements...especially after adding a guy like Dougie Hamilton and the young players having a year experience under their belts, but all they showed this year is that they are severely lacking in many areas....not the least of which is goaltending. Sorry Ramo fans, but he is not the answer...never was.


5-- Washington Capitals looking like a complete juggernaut ALL SEASON LONG!

That the Caps are good is no surprise...that they've been this dominant since just about Game 1 IS!

Sure, they ended the season with some losses, but one has to wonder how much of that had to do with the fact they had the playoffs in the bag for quite a while...with not even a hint of a team sniffing behind them in their own division.

Playoffs are a different animal of course, but from all indications, these guys are built just right for them.


6--Artemi Panarin running away with ROY considerations, DESPITE the fact that 'little known'  :ahappy: players like McDavid and Eichel were in the mix.

And even within his own loaded Blackhawks team the guy is a standout. Pre-season, the talk was one of the top two draft picks grabbing the Calder.....really, who picked Panarin? No one, that's who....


7--  Vincent Lecavalier actually turning into a very useful player for a team.

Many, myself included, figured this guy was done....fini.....caput....terminado!

And in Philly, it sure looked that way...didn't even look like he could help anyone else even if the Flyers got rid of him.

Well, hold the phone the Kings say to the Flyers (yet again), "thank you for the unwanted player, we will make good use of him like we did the others you didn't want".

VLC talked about retirement after season's end...he technically still has a contract, I think he could continue to be a useful bottom six player for LA (or a similarly defensive minded team) for the remainder of his contract.


8-- Brent Burns putting up monster offensive numbers, while STILL playing a decent (though far from perfect) brand of defense.

I've always put Burns in the category of "good offensive defenseman, a liability on defense", and while that assessment still holds merit, the rate at which he produced this year FAR exceeded any liability he may be on defense.

And, to be fair, his overall D, while never to be confused with a guy like Anton Stralman or Ryan Suter, really wasn't that bad this year.

Guy is a monster player, whether he is on D, playing forward, and this year, really did play like a man who can do it all.

Can he do this year in, year out, moving forward? It'll be tough, but for the here and now, I think Sharks fans can be pleasantly surprised by what they got out of Burns this year...and he could play a HUGE factor in how well SJ does in the post season.


9-- Shane Gostisbehere almost single-highhandedly turning the Flyers D from a complete mess, to a group with a bright future.

Sure, Philly has some other nice pieces coming, but Gostisbehere is leading the way, and while many knew he was a good player, I don't think many knew that he would have THIS kind of impact on the Flyers at the NHL level THIS YEAR...especially given all the albatrosses the O & B has, or had, on the blue line.

I dare say Philly would be competing with the bottom feeders if it weren't for the outstanding play of the man they call "Ghost"


10-Leo Komarov being the best and most consistent Leaf all season long.....

On a team destined to occupy the bottom rungs of the standings since before the season began, yet still having some decent to good players, Komarov, a prototypical bottom six guy, did well in helping the Leafs still be problematic for many teams.

Really, a guy like this should at best be a supplemental player, but based on how tough he played, the kind of offense he put up (19G, 36 pts), and even being a sort of 'heart n soul' guy, one has to wonder how much of an asset he would have been a contending team!

I've always known Komarov to be a physically dominant type player, but he showed some good offensive instincts this year, and all the while keeping his PIMs quite low at under 40 on the season.....whether he can do it again next year remains to be seen, but I sure didn't expect a 20 goal season from the guy...

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Biggest surprises. Hmmmmm


10) Columbus sucking so bad that they had to bring Fonzie in to coach.


9) Dallas dominating, playing eighties style hockey with lots of goals both ways. Here is hoping that other teams attempt to copy their style.


8) The Canadiens going from a President Trophy candidate to a lottery team with the loss of Price.


7) Artemi Panarin coming from nowhere to likely win the Calder.


6) No Canadian team making it to the postseason since the days that the league had 12 teams.


5) The Sabres actually looking like they know what they are doing. Huge step forward this year.


4) The Panthers not only making the postseason but winning the division.


3) The Ducks overcoming their wretched start to now be the scariest team in the West.


2) The Capitals. I think everyone knew they would be good, but THIS GOOD? Running away with the Presidents trophy in spite of playing in the leagues absolute best division.


1) The Hawks in spite of being forced to dump salary in the offseason still managed to be relevant, and scary good. Nobody wants to play them.

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