Monday, November 20, 2023

NHL weekend rankings: Wild struggle, Capitals surge, and Thanksgiving looms

Happy Thanksgiving week to readers south of the border. In America, this is a week for travel, family, and fun. In Canada, it’s a week to go “wait, why is there football on a Thursday afternoon?” But in either country, it means that if you’re not in a playoff spot, you might just be screwed.

There are different theories about just how far out you can be, and just how unlikely a comeback could be. But the most basic version is also the scariest: Teams that are out of a playoff spot on U.S. Thanksgiving are very unlikely to make it, period. We’re told that even coaches buy into it.

The good news, if your team is on the outside looking in, is that we’re a few days early here. The bad news is that some teams have already clinched, in the sense that even if they win the rest of their pre-Thanksgiving games, they’ll still be out in the cold on Thursday morning. Let’s focus on those teams, and try to figure out who’s going to defy the odds.

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