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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, May 27, 2024

In the Crease: Most surprising teams

Edition Seven: NHL Awards predictions.

FIXED graphic for Zach Gerson's column "In The Crease"

Graphic by Richie Han Kyaw

This week’s focus, although not a specific award, is on the most surprising teams from this season. These are the teams that most exceeded my expectations and are in a much better position than most thought that they would be in.

Most Surprising Team: Philadelphia Flyers

It is clear that the Flyers have been the most surprising and overachieving team this season. Coming into the season, almost everyone, including myself, had the Flyers finishing in one of the last two positions in the Metropolitan Division. However, the Flyers currently sit in a playoff spot, moving in and out of third and fourth in the Metro since December. Despite not having household names or any superstar players, head coach John Tortorella has his team playing well, sound, disciplined and responsible hockey. With a very tight race in the East coming down the stretch, it is unknown if the Flyers will ultimately clinch a playoff berth. Nevertheless, the Flyers are the team that has performed most above their expectations this season.

Second Most Surprising Team: Washington Capitals

Although not predicted by most to be as bad as the Flyers, almost all hockey minds had the Capitals far from a playoff spot, likely in the sixth or seventh spot in the Metropolitan division. Many felt as if the Capitals were going to start rebuilding this year. That seemed to be the case in the first half of the season, as they were out of reach of a playoff spot. At the trade deadline, the team even sold off pieces such as forward Anthony Mantha to the Golden Knights thinking that their season was over. However, the team went on an impressive hot streak in March, and now all of a sudden sits in an Eastern Conference playoff position. Head coach Spencer Carbery has done an excellent job, and the Capitals are clearly one of the most surprising and overachieving teams of the 2023-24 season.

Third Most Surprising Team: Nashville Predators

Most viewed this season as a transition year for the Nashville Predators under general manager Barry Trotz, meaning that they would be trying to build for the future while at the same time having enough talent to win some games, but not enough to earn a spot in the playoffs. However, fortunately for the team, this has not been the case. The team currently sits at 90 points, comfortably in a playoff spot, thanks in large part to the 18-game point streak they went on from mid-February until this past week. The Predators’ coaching staff and players have appeared to buy into Barry Trotz’s identity of strong defensive play creating offense, which he employed when he was a coach. This identity has given Trotz great success throughout his career and is continuing to give his team success despite him being in the front office instead of behind the bench. All in all, the Predators have been extremely impressive this season.