Monday, January 2, 2023

Weekend rankings: A shakeup in the Top 5, Oiler questions, and a Panthers mess

Welcome back. We didn’t have a weekend rankings column last week, because there was no weekend to rank. But a two-week break represents an opportunity, and I’m going to take it. This week, I’m shaking up the top five.

How big a shake up? Well, not completely enormous, if we’re being honest. After all, this is still the long-term rankings, so even two weeks shouldn’t be enough to entirely scramble things. But we’re going to be adding a new team that’s been knocking on the door for a while now, knock out a pair of teams who've been regulars, welcome one contender back, and nudge another one down further than they've been all year.

We’ll get to all of that down below. But first, let’s mention five teams that you might be expecting to see in this week’s top five, and why you won’t.

Top five teams that aren’t in the top five (but maybe should be)

5. Washington Capitals – I’ll admit that I at least thought about it. The standings say not to bother – they actually went into the weekend in sixth in the Metro by points percentage – but they’ve been hot lately and are getting healthy. Is 11 wins in their last 13, including an absolute stomping of the Habs on Saturday, enough to call them a Cup contender? Not yet. But at the very least, there’s more to pay attention to here than Alexander Ovechkin’s record chase.

4. Tampa Bay Lightning – They have the fifth best winning percentage in the league, and if the playoffs started today they’d be on the road for round one. That would scare me more for other teams than this one.

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