When you were thinking about the Metropolitan Division over the summer, did you give the New Jersey Devils any thought at all? Probably not.
Despite some key additions such as Marcus Johansson and first overall draft pick Nico Hischier to add to the team's core, the Devils still looked like they were a year away from competing for the playoffs.
CHECK OUT THIS WEEK'S NHL AWARDS WATCH HERE
Yet, with the midway point of the season quickly approaching, New Jersey is not only competing for a playoff spot, they currently sit in first place of the Metropolitan Division, the toughest division in the NHL.
Much of that credit belongs to head coach John Hynes. In his third year behind the bench, Hynes has the Devils a year ahead of schedule and playing some fantastic hockey. Rookies Hischier, Jesper Bratt and Will Butcher have provided key contributions to the team as Hynes has managed their first NHL seasons extremely well.
Hynes' performance this season certainly warrants some serious consideration for coach of the year...or at least it would if there was not an expansion team currently sitting in first place in the Western Conference.
Still, don't let Vegas take away from what Hynes has done with the Devils. Did anyone think the Caps would be looking up at the New Jersey in the standings at this point in the season? Probably not.
Check out where Hynes ranks among the other candidates for coach of the year, as well as where the races for all the NHL Awards stand here in this week's awards watch.