To put it bluntly, Carolina collapsed (partly due to losing their top goalie), New Jersey faded just enough (two games made the difference), and OBVIOUSLY the Caps did even better than the .600 pace I projected, due to their sometimes-maligned superstar Alex Ovechkin getting hot, and just about everybody else contributing.
What's interesting is also that Ottawa and Toronto played better than I projected (.500 play for the rest of the season), but not by a ton; 3 games for Toronto and a game and an OT loss for Ottawa. And Winnipeg did exactly what I expected. Of all the teams I feel bad about for not making the playoffs, I feel the worst for them, because they played pretty well the whole season. But the biggest story is Toronto, back in the playoffs for the first time since 2004. The Maple Leafs have been hockey's version of the Cubs, losing consistently but keeping their fans.
It'll be interesting.
One last thing, only three teams in the whole NHL won 8 out of their last 10 games.
Columbus, which just barely missed the playoffs (another sad story);
Pittsburgh, the juggernaut, and