Exhibit A as to how hockey doesn't matter on ESPN:
Last night an ESPN program was discussing how the Detroit Pistons needed a hero citing the heroes on the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions and no mention of the Detroit Red Wings. All this despite the Red Wings probably being the most succesful team in Detroit right now.
I wouldn't call them "the" surprise team, in fact the Islanders are right where they're supposed to be (last), but as a fan I've been impressed with how they're able to outplay even the best teams in the league for 2 periods. Of course, then they go and blow it in the third, but it's still very promising.
For me the Flyers. Didn't expect much from Dallas to be honest, especially with Zubov getting on in years and the Avery signing (which I thought was bad). Richards is a bit overrated and they lost some key cogs in their wins over the past few years through that trade.
Philly though - man what is going on there. Thought they'd be first in the East this year with that line-up. Absolutely brutal.
Anybody who seriously follows the Flyers will legitimately tell you that Stevens is a bottom-5 coach in the league. Not being critical of ppl who didn't know that, I don't follow the West too closely either, so it's tough to be familiar w/ stuff like that.
But a lot of the run last year was smoke and mirrors and Marty Biron. Now that they've stopped getting bounces, and winning games when they got outshot 40-20, we are seeing the result.