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NHL Power Rankings: Avalanche finally overtake Lightning for first time this season

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Well, it’s finally happened. It only took about three months but we finally have an edition of NHL Power Rankings in which the Tampa Bay Lightning are not in the top spot. A few weeks ago we mentioned that the Colorado Avalanche were surging with a seemingly healthy Nathan MacKinnon, and now the Avs sit on a throne that has only been occupied by one other team this season.

Make no mistake about it: The Avalanche are the best team in the league at this moment. It’s not particularly close, either. The Avs are 15-2-3 in their last 20 games and they’re outscoring opponents 84-43 in that stretch. They’re dominating possession and smothering opponents at a stunning rate night in and night out. This is the team that Vegas envisioned when oddsmakers made the Avs the Stanley Cup favorite heading into this season.

With a little over a month to go in the NHL‘s condensed regular season, Colorado is picking a pretty good time to get hot. But even with this incredibly impressive recent surge, the Avs can’t afford to take their foot off the gas. Tampa Bay isn’t going to just fall by the wayside after being knocked down a spot, and Colorado has to worry about a worthy division rival in the Vegas Golden Knights, who have been hanging near the top of the rankings nearly all season long. 

Congrats on the new throne, but with it comes a target on your back. 

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1


Avalanche

At long last, someone impresses enough to overtake the Lightning for the top spot. The Avs are on an absolute tear right now, securing a point in 14 straight games (12 wins) and often kicking some serious ass in the process. 2 25-8-4

2


Lightning

It’s not just Colorado’s dominance that has caused Tampa to fall a spot. The Bolts have been rather hot and cold lately. They won five in a row, then lost three straight, then won two in a row…then got crushed by the Red Wings. No need to panic considering it took about three months for them to falter a bit. Oh yeah, and they’re about to get Nikita Kucherov back for the playoffs. No big deal. 1 26-10-2

3


Hurricanes

I hope people realize how talented Marty Necas is because his ascension to the top of the Canes’ lineup this season has been incredibly fun to watch. 3 25-9-3

4


Golden Knights

Marc-Andre Fleury hasn’t been at his best lately (1-4-0 with a .889 save percentage in his last five starts) and that’s been a stinger for Vegas. Still, they’re a great team that should be fine. 2 24-10-2

5


Panthers

They should be a bit higher on the rankings list based solely on record and performance, but their VERY top-heavy division and the Aaron Ekblad injury are worth considering here as well. The Ekblad situation is gutting, but maybe they go out and make a play for Mattias Ekholm to soften the blow. 26-9-4

6


Maple Leafs

The fact that Auston Matthews could potentially touch 40 goals in a 56-game season is beyond absurd. He’s been disgusting this year. 2 25-10-3

7


Islanders

I’m anxiously awaiting to see what kind of scoring help they get at the deadline. They seem like a team that would be a perfect fit for a guy like Kyle Palmieri. 3 24-10-4

8


Capitals

Giving up eight goals to the Islanders is a bit of a tough look but outside of that game they’ve been playing pretty well lately. 1 25-9-4

9


Wild

I’m interested to see what they do at the deadline. They’re a good team that might be a piece or two away from being a legitimate contender. 1 23-11-2

10


Penguins

It was mere weeks ago when the Penguins’ front office got a makeover and there was chatter about whether the team should consider trading Sidney Crosby. Now they’ve won five of their last six and are climbing up the East standings while steadily getting better. 2 24-12-2

11


Oilers

The one trade deadline deal I want to see is Taylor Hall going back to Edmonton but it doesn’t seem likely. Still, the Oilers would be wise to add some offensive reinforcements around Connor McDavid, who’s in the midst of another incredible season. 2 23-14-1

12


Jets

The underlying numbers continue to suggest that the Jets would be a much worse team if they didn’t have an elite goaltending and play in a weak division. They’re going to make the playoffs but it’s hard to consider them a contender unless they improve the defense. 1 22-13-3

13


Canadiens

I’m interested to see what sort of impact Eric Staal will have in Montreal. Regardless, congrats to him for escaping Buffalo. 1 16-9-9

14


Bruins

They still can’t score and the defense continues to get hit hard. The bright spot right now might be the surprisingly strong play of rookie goalie Dan Vladar. But things are very ugly right now and they need help. 3 19-10-5

15


Rangers

They’ve got points in six of their last eight (five wins) and things are starting to come together and they’re a young team trending in the right direction. It’s a shame that it took so long, especially in a shortened season. 1 17-15-5

16


Coyotes

Arizona is still incredibly uninteresting but they may end up making the playoffs. (See below.) 6 18-15-5

17


Blues

All of a sudden there’s a three-team race for that final playoff spot in the West division. The Blues *should* probably win that race based on roster alone, but they’ve lost 11 of 13 (with four loser points) and their schedule down the stretch is a nightmare. That’s good news for the Coyotes and…Sharks??? 2 16-15-6

18


Predators

Not long ago the Predators were hanging out near the very bottom of this list, regularly looking like one of the most embarrassing teams in the league. Now they’ve won nine of 11 and have vaulted into a playoff spot. This sport is weird sometimes. 9 20-18-1

19


Stars

Dallas still needs help offensively and they look disappointingly average this year. That being said, they’ve still got a positive goal differential and will likely be pushing for a playoff spot down the stretch. That makes it difficult to evaluate how they’ll approach the deadline. 13-13-10

20


Blackhawks

The fact that they’re still even in the playoff conversation right now is impressive and surprising, but the regression we’ve been waiting for is here & hanging around. They’ve lost eight of their last 11 games. 1 17-17-5

21


Flyers

They almost lost to the Sabres, and then they DID lose to the Sabres. That put an exclamation point on an absolutely horrible March in which they went 6-10-1 with only one win coming in regulation. 4 17-14-5

22


Sharks

The Sharks…in a playoff race…in this economy? Nonsense! But, in all seriousness, both the Sharks and Erik Karlsson have looked surprisingly good lately. 4 17-16-4

23


Canucks

They’ve been hit HARD by COVID-19 and it’s unlikely we’ll see them play hockey for a little bit. This is by far the most serious outbreak the NHL has seen this year. 5 16-18-3

24


Kings

They’ve lost six of their last eight games and I don’t think anyone should be that shocked at this regression after a hot stretch. The universe always finds a way to even things out. 1 14-16-6

25


Flames

If you were hoping Darryl Sutter would fix anything in Calgary…welp. Sorry. 5 16-20-3

26


Devils

Kyle Palmieri trade watch is ON. 1 13-17-6

27


Blue Jackets

What are the chances that Columbus has to flip Patrik Laine at the deadline because they’re shocked that John Tortorella couldn’t mold an elite sniper into a grinding power forward? 3 14-18-8

28


Senators

Not sure what I’m supposed to say here. They’re bad. They’ve been bad. They’re going to continue to be bad. 2 13-21-4

29


Red Wings

They beat the crap out of the Lightning on Sunday, which is hilarious. Other than that…still bad. 13-22-5

30


Ducks

If the worst team in California was ever a question, well…it’s isn’t anymore. But, hey, at least the new Mighty Ducks TV series is pretty fun. 2 11-21-7

31


Sabres

They won a game! And then they won another game! Plan the damn parade! 8-23-6




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