Monday, February 19, 2024

Weekend rankings: Five teams that should be in the Top 5 but somehow aren’t

Over the course of my writing career, I’ve been known to produce the occasional ranking or two or several dozen, and I can tell you from experience that there’s a weird thing that happens when you do any kind of top five or top ten – people get mad.

OK, that’s not the weird part, because these days you lose your internet account if you go a full day without being furious at some random opinion you were exposed to just because you went specifically looking for it. But it’s the way people get mad: They’ll swear that a certain player or team or whatever absolutely deserves to be on the list, without making any kind of case for which spot it should take.

So if you say that the five best players in NHL history are Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe and Rocket Richard, somebody will show up and be furious that your list doesn’t include Jaromir Jagr or Sidney Crosby or Nicklas Lidstrom. They don’t seem to want you to take anyone off of your list, mind you, they just want their guy there too.

And I get it. When you hear terms like “top five” or “top ten”, they feel more like labels or tiers, a badge that can be earned for being near the top of the mountain. But the obvious problem here is that that’s not how numbers work. There might be eight or nine players who feel like they have a Top Five case, but the number five doesn’t care. There’s five spots, you get five names, and that’s just how it works, even if it means seemingly deserving candidates have to be left off.

All of which is to say that this week’s Top 5 was an ordeal, because there are more than five teams in the league that feel like they deserve a spot right now. This has been an ongoing theme this year, one that has as many as 14 teams looking like genuine contenders. I’ve only got five spots to work with, and that doesn’t leave a lot of room for subtlety. Your favorite team is either in and you’re happy or they’re out an I’m an idiot.

I am an idiot, for the record, but today seemed like a good time to expand the field a bit. Let’s use our bonus five to list teams that are on the outside of this week’s real list but shouldn’t be, because they’re clearly Top 5 teams, you dummy.

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