Every year there are at least a handful of teams that completely defy pre-season expectations. This year the consensus choices include Colorado, Tampa Bay and Anaheim. Who are the other biggest surprises this year, and how do they rank?
First of all, let's remove my own opinion when defining pre-season expectations, because my picks were absolutely awful this year.
Instead we can establish expectations based on an average of over 26 analysts across 16 different sites. They include, in no particular order:
- Mitchell Tierney representing the folks at the Last Word,
- Chris Morgan of the Examiner,
- James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail,
- NBC Chicago's James Neveau,
- CBS Sports' Brian Stubits, Chris Peters, Sean Hartnett and Andrew Dewitt,
- Dave Lozo of the Score,
- XN Sports' Chris Blanchard,
- Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
- Neil Greenberg of the Washington Post,
- Brian Cazeneuve of Sports Illustrated,
- Jason Lewis of Hockey Buzz,
- SBNation analysts, Adam Gretz, Bruce Ciskie, Eric Tulsky, Matt Brigidi, Steve Lepore, Ted Starkey, Travis Hughes and Tyler Bleszinski,
- Kevin Allen of USA Today,
- The folks at Sports Pickin,
- Hockey Prospectus at ESPN (subscription required) and
- The Hockey News.
It turned out to be a crazy year. This assorted group of analysts didn't fare much better than I did. Overall only four analysts (Hartnett, Neveau, Allen and the Hockey News) had picks that were more accurate than merely assuming last year's standings would repeat themselves.
There were a handful of teams that exceeded everybody on this list, and a few more than fooled the majority. Turn over to find out who.
All advanced statistics are via writer's own original research unless otherwise noted.