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Insider

Anatomy of a surprise playoff team

The Bruins maintain a tenuous hold on the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. But there are reasons to believe they could be this year's "surprise" team that goes on a much longer run than expected. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Based on the traits they have in common with teams that have gone on unexpectedly deep playoff runs in the past, the Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens could be this year's dark horses.

Postseason results aren't always predictable, but teams that take the league by surprise usually have some combination of these five elements.

Virtually every playoff contender this season satisfies at least one of those five criteria, but the Bruins, Canadiens, and Flames are the only teams that satisfy at least three, to one extent or another. Let's break down each category to evaluate each team's chances of surprising postseason success this spring.