5 Most Surprising Team Performances of 2014 NHL Season

5 Most Surprising Team Performances of 2014 NHL Season

5 Most Surprising Teams 2014 NHL Season New York Rangers
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The 2014 NHL season was as unpredictable as ever, with the New York Rangers — a team some picked to miss the playoffs before the year began — making it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. Here are the five most surprising NHL team performances from 2013-14.

5. Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver Canucks
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5. Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver Canucks
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Even after getting swept out of the 2013 NHL playoffs by the San Jose Sharks, expectations remained fairly high for the Vancouver Canucks. It was thought that, at the very least, a core of Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Ryan Kesler, Alexander Edler and Roberto Luongo should be enough to make the postseason. Instead, the Canucks went down in flames, with Kesler wanting out and the team now lacking a true No. 1 goaltender after having two not long ago.

4. New York Rangers

New York Rangers
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4. New York Rangers

New York Rangers
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The New York Rangers were expected to be a low-seeded playoff team that went out early and without much of a fight in the postseason. They ended up being a low-seeded playoff team that scratched and clawed all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. Very few expected that kind of success out of a Rangers squad that typically disappoints.

3. Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning
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3. Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning
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The Tampa Bay Lightning had the third-worst record in the NHL in 2012-13 and were expected to finish in the cellar again in 2013-14. The emergence of Ben Bishop as a high-echelon starter and contributions from rookies like Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson allowed the Lightning to overcome an injury to Steven Stamkos and make the playoffs with home ice advantage in the first round.

2. Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs
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2. Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs
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The Toronto Maple Leafs were on track to qualify for the playoffs late in 2013-14, and then promptly began an embarrassing eight-game losing streak that threw them out of the running. Prior to the collapse, Toronto was the worst enemy of NHL advanced stats proponents, who have long claimed that the Leafs' ever-dreadful possession numbers indicated a team winning a lot more than it should be.

1. Colorado Avalanche

Colorado Avalanche
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1. Colorado Avalanche

Colorado Avalanche
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The Colorado Avalanche made an even more dramatic turnaround than Tampa Bay, moving from the second-worst record in the NHL in 2012-13 to the third-best in 2013-14. Nobody expected the Avalanche to finish ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks or St. Louis Blues, the supposed two best teams in the Central Division. Colorado was a higher seed than both.

Sean Sarcu is a Chicago Blackhawks writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter or add him to your network on Google.

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