Seventeen of 32 NHL teams have reached the halfway point or beyond.

And the other 15 are within a few games of getting there.

So it seemed a good time for the B/R hockey writers to get together to discuss the season's first half and, more specifically, what's surprised us the most—individuals or teams, good or bad—through three months.

We whittled the ideas down to a manageable number and ranked them from Nos. 5 to 1, presenting them here for your perusal while inviting feedback in the comments section.

Drop the puck.


5. Veteran Coaching Extremes

Rewind back to the season's start.

Bruce Boudreau was 18 months past being fired from his position as coach of the Minnesota Wild and was working as an analyst for the NHL Network, and Paul Maurice was coming off a fourth consecutive playoff berth behind the bench with the Winnipeg Jets.

Three months later, it's a whole new world.

Now 67, Boudreau returned to the ranks to rescue the foundering Vancouver Canucks after they had won just eight times in their first 25 games. The team has responded to the tune of a 10-3-2 in his first 15 games and climbed within five points of a Western Conference playoff berth entering Sunday's games.

Maurice, meanwhile, led the Jets to a moderately competitive 13-11-5 mark through 29 games before abruptly resigning eight days before Christmas while suggesting the team needed a new voice.

He was replaced by assistant Dave Lowry, who's gone 4-3-1 in eight games.

"I didn't enjoy it. And that's the very first time I could say I didn't enjoy coming to the rink," he said. "I thought that maybe it was all of what was going on. If you lose some of that passion for the game, you can still be good, but you can't be as good as you should be. That's how I feel I am."