The 2008-09 NHL season has been full of surprises.
Like, who knew…
…that the workmanlike Boston Bruins would have the most wins heading into the homestretch of the regular season?
…that the Western Conference would be a wire-to-wire 15-team playoff chase?
…that the New Jersey Devils could win so often without Martin Brodeur?
…that the Pittsburgh Penguins could lose so often with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin?
…that perennial Central Division losers Chicago and Columbus were ready to rise up?
…that only three teams in the West would give up fewer goals than the Los Angeles Kings tandem of Jonathan Quick and Erik Ersberg?
…that Colorado would fall to the bottom in the West despite a league-best 10-0-1 mark in games that require overtime or a shootout?
…that it would get so bad in Ottawa?
…that it would get oh-so-bad in Tampa Bay?
…that the bottom five teams in the overall NHL standings would all be from the Eastern Conference?
…that only two teams in the West – Anaheim and St. Louis, each with 6-9-1 marks – would have losing records against the East?
…that Calgary’s Jarome Iginla would forsake scoring (21 goals) and become a set-up man (40 assists)?
…that Washington defenseman Mike Green would score more goals than superstar Sidney Crosby (22-21)?
…that Alex Ovechkin (6.6) would average two more shots per game than the NHL’s next-busiest shooter (Carolina’s Eric Staal, 4.4 shots per game)?
…that Boston forwards Blake Wheeler (a rookie) and David Krejci (a sophomore) would be vying for the overall NHL plus-minus lead?
…that Bobby Ryan, the No. 2 draft pick in 2005, would finally arrive as a goal-scoring power forward?
…that Martin Havlat would stay healthy and play every game for the Hawks?
…that Loui Eriksson (27 goals, 44 points) would be way ahead of Fabian Brunnstrom (13 goals, 20 points) on the Dallas depth chart?
…that Columbus goalie Steve Mason would be so good so soon?
Sam McCaig, the editor of the The Ultimate Book of Hockey Lists, is The Hockey News’ senior copy editor and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears every weekend and his column, From The Point, appears regularly.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.