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NHL Power Rankings: Avalanche cling to the top spot amid stellar stretch

NHL Power Rankings: Avalanche cling to the top spot amid stellar stretch

Nathan MacKinnon and company are playing their best hockey at the right time.

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Kim O’Reilly, CBS Sports

There’s just under a month remaining in the 2023-24 regular season, but the Colorado Avalanche already look to be in peak postseason form.

The Avalanche did finally see their nine-game winning streak come to an end on Tuesday with a 2-1 loss against the Montreal Canadiens. Still, star forward Nathan MacKinnon extended his home point streak to 19 games with a goal on Tuesday while also becoming the first player in NHL history to have multiple point streaks of 19 games in the same season.

Colorado pushed the right buttons at the trade deadline by acquiring the likes of defenseman Sean Walker, forward Casey Mittelstadt and forward Yakov Trenin. This is an absolutely loaded roster that certainly appears to be capable of making a deep Stanley Cup run.

The Avalanche are still in a dogfight to capture the top playoff spot in the Central Division. The Dallas Stars and Winnipeg Jets are firmly giving the Avalanche all that they can handle with the Stars holding a two-point advantage atop the division. Still, it’s hard to argue that the Avalanche don’t have the most complete team in the race right now.

With the Avalanche continuing to dominate, here are the updated NHL Power Rankings.

Biggest Movers

3 Golden Knights

1 Oilers

Rk

Teams

 

Chg

Rcrd

1

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Avalanche

Nathan MacKinnon is continuing to play out of his mind. MacKinnon set the franchise record for points in a season and surpassed Joe Sakic in the process. Colorado continues to rack up wins at an absurd rate and don’t look like it has plans of slowing down. 46-21-5
2

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Rangers

The Rangers are staking their claim as one of the top teams in the East. New York is averaging a staggering 4.8 goals over its past six games, and it has taken down the Bruins and Panthers during that span. If Igor Shesterkin can provide a strong presence in the crease, this will be one dangerous team come playoff time. 48-20-4
3

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Hurricanes

Jake Guentzel has proved to be an unreal trade deadline addition, as he’s racked up 12 points in his first eight games with his new team. It also doesn’t hurt that Evgeny Kuznetsov is also providing some depth as the second-line center. On top of all that, Frederik Andersen is back in net and has tallied a stellar 1.34 goals-against-average since returning to the ice. The Hurricanes are nipping at the Rangers’ heels for first place in the Metropolitan Division, and they could easily snatch that away. 45-21-7
4

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Panthers

The Panthers have been among the NHL’s elite teams throughout the second half of the season. However, it’s been rough sledding in South Florida in recent weeks. The Panthers did drop a key encounter against the Bruins on Tuesday, but there’s really no reason to sound the alarm just yet as this is still an elite roster. 46-21-5
5

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Stars

The Stars are getting hot at the right time with a five-game winning streak. The bigger story is the fact that goaltender Jake Oettinger might be finally figuring it out. Oettinger has struggled as a whole this year, but he has given up two goals apiece in each of his last three starts. If that kind of production can hold up, this group will be making some serious noise as the regular season winds down. 2 45-19-9
6

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Oilers

Zach Hyman may be one of the more underrated free agency signings in recent memory. Hyman recorded his first career 50-goal season this past weekend, and he has really thrived playing alongside the likes of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. As a team, the Oilers are battling for the second playoff spot in the Pacific Division, but they will need to get back on track if they want to secure that spot coming down the home stretch. 1 43-23-4
7

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Jets

The Jets have really hit the skids lately with four straight losses, including recently being shut out by the Capitals. Vezina Trophy frontrunner Connor Hellebuyck has had a few lackluster outings, but there isn’t too much reason to worry when it comes to Winnipeg. 1 44-22-6
8

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Bruins

The Bruins are in an absolute dogfight with the Panthers for Atlantic Division supremacy. It has been a rough stretch for goaltender Jeremy Swayman, who has racked up a 3.75 goals-against-average over his last four games. 42-17-15
9

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Canucks

Goaltender Thatcher Demko remains sidelined with a knee injury, and he likely will be out until closer to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Canucks do have a eight-point advantage in the Pacific Division over their counterparts, so there’s no rush to get Demko back onto the ice. 45-19-8
10

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Predators

There’s not a hotter team in the NHL right now than the Predators. The Predators haven’t had back-to-back losses since mid-February and are 16-0-2 in their last 18 games. Nashville is firmly entrenched into one of the Wild Card spots in the Western Conference. Filip Forsberg is on an absolute heater with a goal in each of his last six games to lead the charge. 43-25-4
11

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Golden Knights

The Golden Knights may be the second Wild Card team right now, but this is a team defying all the odds. Losing captain Mark Stone wasn’t ideal, but Jack Eichel and Jonathan Marchessault are leading the way. This is also a group that will get Tomas Hertl into the fold toward the end of the regular season, and it could steal one of the Pacific Division playoff spots if the stellar play keeps up. 3 39-25-8
12

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Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs were thought to be Stanley Cup contenders after adding Tyler Bertuzzi in the offseason. It hasn’t exactly been the season many envisioned for Toronto as the team has been underwhelming at times. The consolation prize is that Auston Matthews is locked up for the foreseeable future and he could be this year’s leading goal scorer. 1 40-22-9
13

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Lightning

The Lightning may not be flashy, but this is likely a team no one wants to face in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. If Mikhail Sergachev can return for a potential playoff run, the Lightning certainly could be a sleeper to make some noise. Anything is possible when Nikita Kucherov is on the cusp of a career-high in points. 1 40-25-7
14

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Kings

The Kings are clinging to the final playoff spot in the Pacific Division, and they are on a four-game winning streak. It’s insane that Anze Kopitar is still playing at an elite level, and he’s about to record consecutive 70-point seasons. 1 38-22-11
15

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Capitals

The Capitals are making a charge at a playoff spot, and Alex Ovechkin has finally turned his season around. After a rough first half, Ovechkin has tallied seven goals in his last five games and is pacing Washington on its recent hot streak. 36-26-9
16

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Flyers

The Flyers were first half darlings, but haven’t been nearly as dangerous post-All-Star break. Sean Couturier is back on the ice after briefly being in head coach John Tortorella’s doghouse, but he still logged the second-fewest ice time among forwards in Tuesday’s loss to the Rangers. Philadelphia is likely a team that most Eastern Conference teams want to face in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs based on its young roster. 1 36-27-10
17

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Wild

The Wild are all but eliminated from the postseason picture unless they go on a ridiculous run late in the year. While it’s been a disappointing year, the Wild have a ton to look forward to when it comes to their future. Defenseman Brock Faber has been quite impressive, and he would probably win the Calder Trophy if it wasn’t for Connor Bedard. 1 34-28-9
18

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Blues

Tuesday’s overtime loss to the Golden Knights was an absolute gutpunch. The Blues are currently six points out of the playoff picture, and it might take a miracle for them to grab one of those two Wild Card spots. 38-30-4
19

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Red Wings

It’s hard to say that anyone predicted the Red Wings’ struggles in this point in the season. Dylan Larkin is back in the lineup, which should help matters, but this is still a team that has dropped 10 of its last 13 games. Detroit might miss the playoffs completely at this rate. 1 36-29-7
20

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Islanders

For a brief period, it appeared that head coach Patrick Roy was turning the tide for the Islanders. However, this team is floundering right now, and it likely will miss out on the postseason. Goaltender Ilya Sorokin’s struggles also haven’t helped matters. 1 30-26-15
21

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Sabres

The Sabres just don’t appear quite ready to compete for a playoff spot. What might be the most shocking is the down year Tage Thompson is having. After tallying a 94-point campaign in 2022-23, Thompson has just 45 points with less than a month to go. 34-34-5
22

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Devils

The goaltending position is arguably the top reason why the Devils are going to miss the playoffs this season. Still, Jake Allen, who was acquired at the trade deadline from the Canadiens, has been strong in the crease thus far with a 2.50 goals-against-average in six games since joining the team. Retool the defense in the offseason, and this definitely can be a playoff team in 2024-25. 1 36-33-4
23

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Flames

The Flames obviously aren’t a playoff team, and they have dropped seven of their last nine games. While it’s been a rough couple of seasons in Calgary, the team did receive a key contributor in last summer’s Tyler Toffoli’s trade in the form of Yegor Sharangovich, who is on the doorstep of being a 30-goal scorer. 1 33-33-5
24

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Penguins

It’s been a rough second half of the season for the Penguins to say the least. Pittsburgh is really going to be a team to watch this offseason to see if they really embrace the rebuild. If they do, Sidney Crosby could have a new home in 2024-25. 1 31-30-10
25

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Kraken

The Kraken were expected to be a playoff team in the West but have struggled mightily. They had lost eight in a row prior to Tuesday’s win against the Ducks. Still, they’ve plummeted out of the playoff picture completely. 1 29-29-13
26

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Senators

The team of potential just hasn’t performed up to standards this season. One positive is star center Tim Stutzle being on the verge of setting a new career-high in assists and looking like the first-line center of the future. Sadly, this is a group that was never in the playoff race this season. 31-36-4
27

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Coyotes

The Coyotes have produced their highest win total over the past few seasons in 2023-24, so there is light at the end of the tunnel. Clayton Keller is having a tremendous year, while former No. 3 pick Logan Cooley has been productive in his rookie campaign. A potential run at a playoff berth in the near future may not be out of the question if the development keeps up. 30-37-5
28

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Canadiens

There haven’t been a ton of positives to speak of when it comes to the Canadiens this season. However, former No. 1 pick Juraj Slafkovsky is having a solid campaign, so that’s something to be intrigued by. Having a nice trio of Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield and Slafkovsky to build around is a decent starting point for a rebuilding franchise. 2 27-32-12
29

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Blue Jackets

It’s likely this situation isn’t quite what Johnny Gaudreau envisioned when he signed that massive contract two summers ago. The Blue Jackets are just floundering right now as they have throughout the majority of the season. It also doesn’t help that rookie sensation Adam Fantilli has been out of the lineup since late January. 1 23-37-12
30

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Blackhawks

Connor Bedard has missed some time, but it’s still downright impressive he’s close to the 60-point mark. After all, Bedard hasn’t received a ton of help on the offensive end of the ice as the Blackhawks have just four players that are north of the 30-point mark. They currently have the second-best odds of landing the No. 1 pick, so there’s a little bit of a silver lining. 1 21-46-5
31

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Ducks

While the Ducks may not catch the Sharks, Anaheim still should have some strong odds to win the Macklin Celebrini derby and acquire the No. 1 pick. The Ducks have dropped nine of their last 10 games and have established themselves among the league’s worst as the 2023-24 season winds down. 24-44-4
32

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Sharks

The Sharks have been abysmal over the last month. After unloading the likes of Tomas Hertl and Anthony Duclair at the trade deadline, San Jose has dropped 17 of its last 18 games, and they have been an automatic win for their competition. 16-47-8

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