Monday, December 5, 2022

Weekend NHL rankings: Penguins, Boeser, and 5 stories I’m not buying yet

I’m pretty good at denial. Those extra pounds I’ve recently added are probably muscle mass from that time I went to the gym in October, and the thinning hair on the back of my head is just because I’m sleeping on my pillow wrong. What can I tell you, I’m a Leafs fan, refusal to face reality is kind of a must-have life skill.

So it shouldn’t surprise you to know that there are a handful of stories unfolding around the league that I’m not quite buying… yet. In some case I’m close, maybe even a week or so away. In others, I’m staying stubborn. Remember, I spent all of last year completely convinced that the Golden Knights couldn’t miss the playoffs. Then again, I also wasn’t sold on the Ducks leading the Pacific into January. Sometimes, it’s better not to get out over your skis.

For this week’s bonus top five, lets run down five stories that I’m not sold on quite yet, ranked based on how strong the evidence looks that I'm wrong.

Top five first-half realities I have not accepted yet

5. Montreal as a middle-of-the-pack team – They won’t finish dead last for a second straight year, and Martin St. Louis deserves a ton of credit for leading them to a respectable 12-11-1 start. I’m just not sure how long it can continue. I agree with Arpon that the focus is on development over wins and losses, and that means that this season is already shaping up as a success. But it feels like the big comedown is right around the corner.

4. The Panthers as a non-factor – This one’s a bit weird, because I wasn’t a fan of their offseason coaching change from Andrew Brunette to Paul Maurice, so in that sense maybe I should be taking a premature victory lap. And no, they’re obviously not going to have another 120-point season, because you need absolutely everything to go right for that to happen. But a middle-of-the-road team that struggles to make the playoffs, looking to fend of teams like the Red Wings and Habs? No way. There’s too much talent here, and as they move towards the Spencer Knight era in goal, I think they start looking scary again.

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