Monday, December 12, 2022

Weekend rankings: The red hot Maple Leafs make their case for the top 5

Yes, the Leafs are in.

Sorry to ruin the suspense, but I’m guessing the slow build to a big reveal wouldn’t have worked. The Leafs have been among the hottest teams in the league for well over a month now. Since that disastrous 0-for-3 road trip through California that had overdramatic morons rending garments, the Leafs have gone 14-1-4, and are now on pace for 117 points.

And yes, I hear you: But the playoffs. I get it. If you think the Leafs’ history of first-round failure is less about luck and more about some fundamental flaw, then you don’t really care about what they’re doing in November and December. After all, this top five is about who’s going to win the Cup, not who’s hot right now, and you might insist that we all know the Leafs aren’t winning four playoff rounds. Even if you don’t by the choking narrative, the Lightning are still looming as a first-round rematch, so the path out of the Atlantic is rough.

We could make that argument for most teams – the age of parity means there just aren’t any easy matchups anymore. But OK, you’re still not sold on the Leafs. Let’s use this week’s bonus top five to make the case for why they're cracking the real thing for the first time since the 2020-21 season.

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