Many, myself included, had projected that the top 3 in the West would have been the Blues, Ducks, and Jackets. No one could have known at the time but the new HFNHL (actually the change in sim from version 1.0 to 1.3) would look so different making the traditional defence first approach obsolete. Of the three teams mentioned none of them, after accounting for Divisional seeding, would have home ice advantage if the playoffs were to begin today. The Wings have got to be considered the biggest surprise as they have managed to temporarily move into first in the West. Team management continues to focuse on retooling for the future but the Team continues to win creating great excitement amongst fans in the Motor City. The fans could hang GM Niece if he trades away any key players at this point but he remains adamant that he will stick to his announced plan regardless. The offensive chemistry between Stumpel and Parrish has lifted the team to levels no one could have foreseen. Next up among nice surprises has been the Blackhawks. The team has not only held first for a large portion of the season to-date but continues to baffle many with one of the best goals against averages in the league. While the team has slipped slightly lately they are only 1 Â½ games out of first and their offence keeps firing so there is no apparent reason to believe they will just go away any time soon. The Sharks are not necessarily a huge surprise as they always had the talent but entering the season there were some gaps that needed addressing that resulted in many expecting them to finish 4th or 5th. GM Astles has addressed many of those gaps and the team is now firing on all cylinders as evidenced by the teams recent 10 game win streak and Peter Forsberg is running away with the scoring title. Saying the Wild started out slowly is an understatement as they had had a horrible first 10 games of the season (2 wins I think). After all the new teammates got to know one another however and the lines were readjusted for the new HFNHL the Wild have found their groove and are rocketing up the standings. While in 5th on points currently, divisional seeding places them 3rd. Of the remaining teams expected to do well the Jackets and Ducks have had the hardest time adapting to the new reality. Statistically the Ducks are putting up numbers comparable to the best teams in the league but that has been skewed a bit as they tend to lose close games and feast on weaker opponents. The Jackets on the other hand are slowly scrapping together some wins having recently moved past the aforementioned Ducks to take over 7th in the West. The biggest challenge for the Jackets has been the well documented struggle of Martin Brodeur.