Hockey analytics pioneer Rob Vollman is ESPN Insider's armchair GM this season, exploring how modern statistics can inform front-office decisions.
Last season, Colorado, Tampa Bay and Anaheim were among the teams that most notably defied preseason expectations. The Lightning were swept in the opening round of the playoffs, the Avalanche bowed out in a tough, seven-game series with Minnesota, and the Ducks advanced to a thrilling conference semifinal in which they took the eventual Stanley Cup-winning Los Angeles Kings to the limit. Who are the Cinderella stories this season, and can they get any closer to the glass slipper?
After 82 games, it's easy to forget what the expectations were for each team way back in the fall. That's why I assembled the preseason projections of 106 analysts of various affiliations and compared them to the results at the end of the season.
Among playoff teams in the West, Nashville was seen as a bubble team at best, and Calgary and Winnipeg were viewed as potential contenders for the draft lottery. In the East, Washington was seen as a wild-card team, not a home seed, and Ottawa wasn't expected to be in the postseason picture at all.
What happened to each of these five teams to help them defy preseason expectations? And can they be expected to continue their run through the postseason?