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Top 10 contenders for Stanley Cup Top 10 contenders for Stanley Cup /nhl/lists/top-stanley-cup-contenders-100113 http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/10/01/100113-NHL-Blackhawks-Shaw-PI-HF_20131001180839436_136_102.JPG
Biggest choke jobs in sports Infamous chokers gallery /nhl/lists/Infamous-sports-chokers http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/09/26/New-Zealand-sailing-fan_20130926040909882_136_102.JPG
Who has the FOXiest fans? Take a look at the FOXiest fans in hockey. /nhl/lists/FOXiest-female-hockey-NHL-fans-092612 http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/03/08/030813-3-NHL-foxiest-kings-OB-G_20130308185330431_136_102.JPG
Stanley Cup Final expert picks Stanley Cup Final expert picks: Chicago Blackhawks hosting the Boston Bruins in an Original Six Series. Who will win? /nhl/lists/stanley-cup-expert-predictions-chicago-blackhawks-boston-bruins-061113 http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/06/11/PI_20130611222922662_136_102.JPG
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NHL 142 43 Biggest surprises of 2013 NHL season 31595977 Free agents aren't free Free+agents+aren%27t+free NHL

The Minnesota Wild caused the splash of last summer when they signed the prizes of the market, left wing Zach Parise (pictured) and defenseman Ryan Suter, to $98 million, 13-year contracts. But despite the boost to their attack by the relentless Parise, who had seven goals in their first 16 games, the Wild are the NHL's lowest-scoring team. Suter had nine assists but no goals and a minus-4 rating entering Friday.


Meanwhile, the clubs they left are faring just fine. The Nashville Predators are playing again like the perennial Western Conference playoff team they were with Suter. The New Jersey Devils have been near the top of the Eastern Conference all season, with David Clarkson, Patrik Elias, Ilya Kovalchuk doing their best to make their fans forget about Parise.

Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/02/21/022113-NHL-Gallery-SW-3_20130221194516720_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/02/21/022113-NHL-Gallery-SW-3_20130221194516720_107_80.JPG
NHL 142 43 Biggest surprises of 2013 NHL season 31599249 Will there be a change in champs? Will+there+be+a+change+in+champs%3F NHL

The Los Angeles Kings looked like a legitimate candidate to become the first team in 15 years to take consecutive titles with every significant player returning from last season's Stanley Cup winners, but they've required a recent surge of four victories in their last five games to even climb back in contention.


The Kings have begun to pick up the gritty wins that defined their championship run last spring, but the 7-6-2 record they took into the weekend was below the playoffs cut. Over their first 15 games, Jeff Carter was the only player with more than four goals, and only two teams had scored less than the Kings entering Thursday. Goalie Jonathan Quick (pictured), the backbone of last year's title team, who led the league with 10 shutouts, doesn't have one yet. His goals-against average, which was a robust 1.95 last season, has risen to 2.58.

Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/02/21/022113-NHL-Gallery-SW-2_20130221194516718_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/02/21/022113-NHL-Gallery-SW-2_20130221194516718_107_80.JPG
NHL 142 43 Biggest surprises of 2013 NHL season 31599250 After rough start, Ruff's out After+rough+start%2C+Ruff%27s+out NHL

Lindy Ruff's run as the longest-tenured coach in the league is over.


With Buffalo in the midst of a a 4-10-1 skid, Ruff was fired Wednesday by his near-lifelong team. After playing 10 seasons for the Sabres, Ruff took over on the bench in 1997 and lasted nearly 16 years until being replaced on an interim basis by Ron Rolston.


That Ruff's reign is finished shouldn't be a shock. Despite taking Buffalo to the Stanley Cup finals in 1999 and the Eastern Conference finals in 1998, 2006 and 2007, Ruff's teams have reached the playoffs only twice in the previous five seasons. The Sabres lost in the first round both times.

Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/02/21/022113-NHL-Gallery-SW-4_20130221194516721_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/02/21/022113-NHL-Gallery-SW-4_20130221194516721_107_80.JPG
NHL 142 43 Biggest surprises of 2013 NHL season 31599251 The Habs are happy The+Habs+are+happy NHL

The proud Montreal Canadiens, who haven't won the Stanley Cup in 20 years or won a playoff series in three seasons, have found themselves on top of the Eastern Conference.


Thanks to the resurgence of Rene Bourque, the energy of rookie Alex Galchenyuk and the grit of newcomer Brandon Prust, the Canadiens have a fresh outlook on the ice and off it with new general manager Marc Bergevin and the return of former coach Michel Therrien.

Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/02/21/022113-NHL-Gallery-SW-5_20130221194516719_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/02/21/022113-NHL-Gallery-SW-5_20130221194516719_107_80.JPG
NHL 142 43 Biggest surprises of 2013 NHL season 31599252 Have the Capitals crumbled? Have+the+Capitals+crumbled%3F NHL

Alex Ovechkin (pictured) hasn't played like ''Alexander the Great'' for three years now, so the demise of the Washington Capitals had already started before this season. After averaging more than 51 goals over his first five NHL seasons, Ovi has ceased to be an elite scorer. He had five goals in the first 16 games this season.


But the whole team, badly missing injured center Brooks Laich, has failed to find a rhythm under first-time head coach Adam Oates. The Capitals entered Thursday in last place in the Eastern Conference.

Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/02/21/022113-NHL-Gallery-SW-6_20130221194545723_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/02/21/022113-NHL-Gallery-SW-6_20130221194545723_107_80.JPG
NHL 142 43 Biggest surprises of 2013 NHL season 31599248 The Hawks are hot The+Hawks+are+hot NHL

The Chicago Blackhawks, still fueled by the core of their 2010 championship club, were certainly in the conversation this year about the league's elite. But nobody could've expected their opportunity to set the NHL record for most games in a row with at least one point. They'll play Friday to try to stretch the streak to 17. For any team, regardless of talent, to start so strong after a six-day training camp is a remarkable feat.


Goalies Corey Crawford and Ray Emery (pictured here with captain Jonathan Toews) have had a lot to do with this. The Hawks have a 1.88 goals-against average, down from 2.75 last season, which put them in the NHL's bottom third.

Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/02/21/022113-NHL-Gallery-SW-1_20130221194516717_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/02/21/022113-NHL-Gallery-SW-1_20130221194516717_107_80.JPG
NHL 142 43 Biggest surprises of 2013 NHL season 31599247 Out of the blue Out+of+the+blue NHL

This unusual NHL season is already one third of the way over, with roughly two more months for teams to grind through the lockout-condensed schedule. With so many games packed into the winter, unpredictable developments were, well, predictable. Here's a rundown of some of the biggest surprises so far ...

-- Dave Campbell, The Associated Press

Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/02/21/022113-NHL-Gallery-SW-Intro_20130221194516716_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/02/21/022113-NHL-Gallery-SW-Intro_20130221194516716_107_80.JPG
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http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/10/01/100113-NHL-Blackhawks-Shaw-PI-HF_20131001180839436_136_102.JPG Top 10 contenders for Stanley Cup Top 10 contenders for Stanley Cup Top 10 contenders for Stanley Cup Nothing comes easy in hockey, nothing. The road to winning the Stanley Cup is filled with obstacles, and this year the defending champs have these nine teams coming after them. Oct 1, 2013 6:49 PM ET 1 3 /nhl/lists/top-stanley-cup-contenders-100113
http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/09/26/New-Zealand-sailing-fan_20130926040909882_136_102.JPG Biggest choke jobs in sports Infamous chokers gallery Infamous chokers gallery You've really got to work to get sailing onto this website. And you've <i><font color="#0000">REALLY</font></i> got to blow it for people to refer to a yacht race as the biggest choke in the history of all sports. Take a bow, Emirates! Sep 26, 2013 12:02 PM ET 1 3 /nhl/lists/Infamous-sports-chokers
http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/03/08/030813-3-NHL-foxiest-kings-OB-G_20130308185330431_136_102.JPG Who has the FOXiest fans? Take a look at the FOXiest fans in hockey. Take a look at the FOXiest fans in hockey. It's game time for the NHL's FOXiest fans. Jul 17, 2013 11:30 AM ET 1 3 /nhl/lists/FOXiest-female-hockey-NHL-fans-092612
http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/06/11/PI_20130611222922662_136_102.JPG Stanley Cup Final expert picks Stanley Cup Final expert picks: Chicago Black... Stanley Cup Final expert picks: Chicago Blackhawks hosting the Boston Bruins in an Original Six Series. Who will win? Our simulator told you who the numbers say will win the Cup. But if getting the expert's take is more your thing, we've got you covered, too. Jun 12, 2013 12:03 AM ET 1 3 /nhl/lists/stanley-cup-expert-predictions-chicago-blackhawks-boston-bruins-061113