There were plenty of storylines to go around through the first four months of the NHL season and, for better or for worse, some of those storylines took fans by surprise.
Here are some of the most unforseen stories of the first half.
Charles LeClaireCharles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Blue Jackets' winning streak
Columbus was projected by many to be a lottery team coming into the season, so when they got off to a hot start it was kind of a big deal. People took notice, but there seemed to still be reservations about buying in on them.
Then they ripped off 16 wins in a row (one win short of tying the longest streak in NHL history) and arguing that the start was fluky became much more difficult. All of the sudden, it was assumed Columbus would be a playoff team.
Even if that win streak turns out to be the peak of the Jackets' season, it still was the biggest surprise of the first half.
Aaron DosterAaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
The Leafs are...good?
We knew that the Maple Leafs would have quite the crop of rookies in their lineup this year. Somehow, though, it seems we underestimated just how much of an impact that young talent would have immediately.
The 19-year-old tandem of Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, both in their first NHL season, has made Toronto an instant threat. The 20-year-old William Nylander has also impressed in rookie campaign.
Collectively, the trio has accounted for 42 goals through the team's first 45 games, which is 30% of the team's total scoring.
Did I mention that Toronto -- the league's worst team last year -- looks to be in the playoff hunt this season? We knew the future looked bright for the Leafs, but it's come as a big surprise just how quickly they've gotten there.
Tom SzczerbowskiTom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Florida's hopes going south
Make all the "hockey doesn't belong in Florida" jokes you want, but the Lightning and Panthers were expected to be two of the most fearsome teams in the Eastern Conference this year.
Uh, yeah, about that...
A season removed from winning the Atlantic Divsion, the Panthers got off to a horrid start. They wound up firing their head coach, Gerard Gallant, in November and had to fight off rumors of an organizational disconnect between the coaching staff and front office.
Meanwhile, the Lightning headed into the year with one of the best rosters on paper. They had made two deep playoff runs in the past few years and looked primed for another this season, but Tampa just couldn't put it together in the first half. As a result, they head into the latter half at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
Granted, both the Panthers and Lightning have dealt with a number of significant injuries -- most notably Steven Stamkos in Tampa -- but it's still surprising to see them fare as poorly as they have.
Kim KlementKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Devan "Probably Gonna Win The Vezina" Dubnyk
Prior to this season, Devan Dubnyk's career was a bit of a mystery. He'd shown flashes of potential but was plagued by inconsistency and bounced around a bit before catching on in Minnesota in 2015.
This year, in his age-30 season, Dubnyk seems to be reaching his full potential. At the midway point, the goalie is the leader in the clubhouse to take home the Vezina, leading the league in both save-percentage and goals-against-average.
Sure, it helps that he's playing behind the best defense he's ever had, but make no mistake about it -- he's having a phenomenal season.
Jerome MironJerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Henrik Lundqvist not looking like royalty
Maybe we've just come to expect too much from Henrik Lundqvist at this point, but the Rangers goalie's disappointing first half was pretty jarring.
Yes, he'll turn 35-years-old in a few months and the defense in front of him has been rough, but neither age or defensive incompetence has stopped Lundqvist from putting up impressive numbers in years past.
With his GAA at 2.75 and his save-percentage sitting dangerously close to the .900 line, he's in the midst of the worst season of his career. His job security waned in the first half, as the Rangers elected to go with the hot hand and gave more burn to backup Antti Raanta, who's having a solid season in net.
Lundqvist has always been able to shoulder the load and put the team on his back, but maybe that's just not the case anymore..and maybe it's unfair of us to expect him to.
Timothy T. LudwigTimothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Islanders lost at sea
Was the Islanders' regression a bit predictable? Sure. After all, they lost three important pieces in Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, and Matt Martin over the offseason.
With that in mind, the the dropoff has still been a bit staggering. A season removed from winning their first playoff series since 1993, the Isles sputtered out of the gate and looked disastrous enough that it cost head coach Jack Capuano his job.
A significant amount of blame has to fall on GM Garth Snow, who did a poor job of replacing the talent that left town and is left scrambling to pick up the pieces.
Bruce FedyckBruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Thornton's scoring woes
Joe Thornton was never a goal-scoring dynamo, but the Sharks veteran has had a world of trouble of finding the back of the net this season. Well, at least when there's a goalie in the net. All three of Thornton's goals in the first half came on empty nets.
He's still been productive -- he's on pace for over 50 points -- but the 37-year-old is in the midst of his least productive season since his first season all the way back in 1998-99.
He remains the top line center on one of the best teams in the West, but Jumbo Joe's numbers are shockingly tame through the first half.