If there is one thing (and there isn’t; there is so much in J2EE 1.4 that is new on the web front) that has changed in-between the last two years since I worked on JSPs and web applications then it is EL. And hurrah for that.
Combined with JSTL EL provides a really clean syntax for writing JSPs that I feel takes away a lot of the criticism that scriptlet style JSP programming received from fans of, say, templating systems. EL is all you really need if you are doing proper views (of MVC) and compared to the Struts Bean taglib it is much more legible and maintenable. Of course as an addition to the core package this is only befitting. Struts pointed the way but EL is an excellent implementation of the principle.