Monday, December 11, 2023

NHL weekend rankings: Penguins, Sabres, and how much should consistency matter?

When it comes to power rankings, does consistency matter?

(Pauses so everyone can make their own “Yeah, consistently wrong” jokes.)

I think it’s a fair question, and it’s one that’s come up a few times over the last few weeks. I leave a team out of the Top 5, or maybe don’t rank them quite as highly as their fans think I should. Inevitably, somebody points to a team in a better spot and demands to know how I can think so highly of them. After all, they’re just so… inconsistent.

The Avalanche get this treatment a lot. And… sure, it’s hard to argue. The Avs started the season 6-0-0, then lost five of seven, then won seven of eight, and then lost three in a row before their current homestand. They’re a lot of things, but consistent isn’t one of them. You could say the same for the Stars, who started great but haven't won two straight in weeks.

Then you have teams like the Kings or Rangers. L.A. hasn't gone pointless in two straight all year, and the Rangers hadn't either until Saturday. Those teams have been chugging along, racking up wins and avoiding the tough stretch. Anyone can get hot, the argument goes, but consistency is the sign of a winner that’s built for the long haul.

It makes sense. And there’s certainly at least some truth to it. But when I’m putting my rankings together, I tend not to get too caught up in consistency. Given how often it comes up as a criticism, maybe I should explain why that is.

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