Sunday, July 21, 2024

NHL Power Rankings: Stars rise to No. 1 amid winning streak, peaking at right time as playoffs approach

NHL Power Rankings: Stars rise to No. 1 amid winning streak, peaking at right time as playoffs approach

The Stars have won seven consecutive games with goaltender Jake Oettinger appearing to regain his confidence

Kim O’Reilly, CBS Sports

Only a few weeks are left in the 2023-24 regular season, and the Dallas Stars appeared to be peaking at exactly the right time.

The Stars are riding a seven-game winning streak, and their most recent outing was a 3-0 win against the Seattle Kraken on Saturday. Goaltender Jake Oettinger has been thriving with a 5-0-0 record, a 1.40 goals-against-average and a .942 save percentage in his last five games. Most recently, Oettinger recorded a 17-save shutout against the Kraken, and he has registered a 2.65 goals-against-average over the past month. After struggling throughout the season, it appears Oettinger is playing with a ton of confidence while stacking consecutive strong performances.

Dallas is still in a closely-contested battle at the top of the Central Division with the Colorado Avalanche. The Stars currently hold a three-point advantage over the Avalanche to lead the way in the division. It’s truly hard to argue that any team is playing better hockey than the Stars right now.

With the Stars imposing their will on the rest of the league, here are the updated NHL Power Rankings.

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The Stars are the hottest team in the league right now as they’re riding a seven-game winning streak. Even more importantly, goaltender Jake Oettinger may have found his form with a 1.40 goals-against-average in his last five starts. Dallas does have Colorado hot on its tail in the Central Division race, so this stellar stretch couldn’t have come at a better time. 4 47-19-9

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The Rangers have won five of their last six games. New York currently sits atop the Metropolitan Division, but Carolina isn’t too far behind. Still, the Presidents’ Trophy is well within reach for a team that is paced by Hart Trophy contender Artemi Panarin. 50-21-4

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The Avalanche have hit a little bit of a bump in the road with three losses over their last four games. There’s certainly no reason to panic, but Colorado will need to rebound since the Central Division crown is still up for grabs. Nathan MacKinnon has failed to register a point in two of his last three games, so clearly the sky is falling. 2 47-22-6

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The Hurricanes have thrived over the last month, and they look to have all the makings of a juggernaut capable of making a Stanley Cup run. Sebastian Aho has really found his game with six goals in his last five games. It also doesn’t hurt that Carolina seems to have a stellar goaltending duo in Frederik Andersen and Pyotr Kochetkov. 1 47-21-7

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The Bruins are clinging to a narrow lead over the Panthers, and the two teams have a battle on tap for this coming weekend. It seems like it’s going to come down the wire, but the Bruins have been a tad more consistent than the Panthers in recent weeks. 3 44-17-15

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The Panthers are struggling in a big way recently with eight losses in their last 10 games. At this point in the season, Florida has to start stringing wins together. Sam Reinhart is still as hot as any player around the NHL and is one of just three 50-goal scorers this season. 2 47-24-5

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Golden Knights

The Golden Knights are on fire right now. This is a team that has been victorious in five of its last six games despite battling through all kinds of adversity on the injury front. If Vegas wasn’t dangerous enough, Tomas Hertl began practicing with the team and could return to the ice before the playoffs begin. 4 42-25-8

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The Canucks haven’t been quite as lethal as some expected down the stretch. Even still, Vancouver still will likely take the Pacific Division’s top spot unless they collapse. It’s worth noting Elias Pettersson has cooled off a bit, so the Canucks will need him to get back on track. 1 46-21-8

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It might seem crazy, but Connor McDavid is having a down year compared to what he put together in 2022-23. Still, the Oilers are still vying for the Pacific Division crown with a few weeks remaining in the regular season. When the postseason rolls around, Edmonton’s fate will likely center around the type of production it gets from the goaltenders. 3 45-23-5

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Maple Leafs

At this point, is there really that wide of a gap between the Bruins, Panthers and Maple Leafs from a talent standpoint? It may sound crazy, but the Maple Leafs might be the most consistent right now among these three teams. When you have a 60-goal scorer like Auston Matthews on your roster, you’re always going to be in the Stanley Cup contender conversation. 2 43-22-9

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The Jets had lost six consecutive games prior to defeating the Kings on Monday. While it’s just one game, perhaps it’s a stepping stone for a Winnipeg team that has an abundance of talent and should be able to compete in the Western Conference come playoff time. 4 45-24-6

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The Predators had won six in a row and looked like one of the hottest teams in the NHL. However, they’ve come back down to Earth with three consecutive losses and have hit the skids a little bit. Yakov Trenin got some revenge against his former team in their matchup this past weekend. 2 43-28-4

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This is the squad Eastern Conference teams don’t want to face in the opening round of the playoffs. Nikita Kucherov is playing out of his mind with a league-high 127 points on the year. 41-26-7

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The Kings probably don’t strike fear in a ton of teams in the West. A three-game slide doesn’t exactly help matters. Los Angeles has fallen into the second Wild Card spot over the last week due to Vegas’ surge. 38-25-11

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The Capitals have come out of nowhere to insert themselves in the postseason race. However, they’ve dropped three consecutive games, including a pair against the Bruins and Maple Leafs. Washington will need to bounce back if they want to remain in the playoff picture. 36-28-10

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The Blues are doing their best to stay alive in the playoff race. St. Louis topped Edmonton in overtime this week in what could be a huge confidence builder. 2 40-31-4

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The Wild are fading in the Western Conference Wild Card race. Minnesota attempted to pull out all the stops against Vegas when they pulled their goaltender in overtime, but it ended up backfiring on them in a tough loss. The Wild are looking more and more like they went be postseason bound, barring a hot streak. 36-29-9

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Red Wings

It’s still baffling how far the Red Wings have plummeted after looking like a shoe-in for the postseason around the All-Star break. Detroit did get back on track with a key win against the Lightning this week, but much like the Islanders, consistency is going to need to be a theme if Patrick Kane and Co. want to qualify for the playoffs. 1 37-30-8

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The Islanders recently notched a hard-fought overtime win against the Flyers. It’s a huge deal considering the Flyers could end up becoming a Wild Card team in the playoffs. New York certainly needs to be more consistent down the stretch if they want to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs in head coach Patrick Roy’s first campaign behind the bench. 1 33-27-15

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The Flyers have been one of the bigger surprises this season, but they’re in complete free-fall mode right now. Philadelphia is currently on a five-game losing streak, and it has lost to bottom dwellers like the Blackhawks and Canadiens during that stretch. The only positive lately was the debut of goaltender Ivan Fedotov after the highly-touted prospect finally arrived from Russia. 4 36-29-11

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It’s crazy to think where the Devils would be if they hadn’t let Ryan Graves and Damon Severson leave this past offseason. Despite all of the awful stretches, New Jersey is still alive in the playoff race, and it has gotten some solid goaltending play from Jake Allen. 1 36-35-4

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It’s been a disappointing year for Tage Thompson, but the Sabres star did recently turn in a four-goal performance against the Devils. Buffalo is still alive in the playoff race, but it would take a scalding finish to qualify for the postseason. 1 36-35-5

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It’s been a disappointing pair of back-to-back seasons for the Flames after seeing franchise fixtures Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau leave town. This is a team that’s entered the loss column in six of its last seven games. 34-35-5

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Despite shipping Jake Guentzel out of town, the Penguins have strung some victories together lately, and they are only three points out of a playoff spot. Sidney Crosby also clinched the 19th point-per-game season of his NHL career, and he doesn’t show signs of slowing down anytime soon. 34-30-11

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The potential of the Senators’ young roster didn’t come to fruition once again this season. Still, Ottawa recently had a five-game winning streak and defeated some playoff-caliber teams during that stretch. 1 33-37-4

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The Kraken were thought to be a playoff team after winning a playoff series in 2022-23, but it hasn’t exactly happened that way. Seattle has had an up-and-down year, but it has tallied three wins over the last four games while Jared McCann is closing in on his second consecutive 30-goal season. 1 31-30-13

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Despite being blanked by the Hurricanes over the weekend, the Canadiens took down the likes of the Avalanche and Flyers prior to the loss. Montreal has been paced by star forward Nick Suzuki, who recently registered his first-career 30-goal campaign. 1 29-33-12

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The Coyotes have been putting the puck in the net at a solid clip with 6.3 goals-per-game over their last three contests. While a playoff berth is out of the question in 2023-24, the future is extremely bright for Arizona. 1 31-38-5

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Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets have actually compiled back-to-back wins against teams that are battling for playoff spots. It’s still absolutely wild that Johnny Gaudreau is on pace for just 61 points this season. 25-38-12

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The Blackhawks surprisingly topped the Flyers, who are in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race. Chicago has won three of its last five games, and it looks to be closing out the regular season strong. 22-48-5

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Aside from the Sharks, the Ducks have struggled the most out of any NHL team this season. Despite having a ridiculous amount of forward depth, this team still is averaging just 2.0 goals over its last five games. 25-47-4

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The Sharks fell to the Kraken on Monday as their struggles continue. It’s pretty obvious San Jose is the worst team the NHL has to offer. It’s safe to say the Sharks should have the best odds to land the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NHL Draft. 17-49-8

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