NHL Power Rankings: Nathan MacKinnon and the Avalanche are surging

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When it comes to the Colorado Avalanche, a lack of consistency has been a consistent point of frustration over the past few years. They have the talent and capability of looking like world-beaters on any given night, but they tend to run a bit hot and cold.

Right now? They’re hot and, if you’re one of the lesser teams in the West division, you don’t want to find yourself in their way.

As such, the Avalanche are big climbers in this week’s NHL Power Rankings. And it should come as no big shock that a big reason for the Avs’ recent success is one Nathan MacKinnon, who has seemingly fought off some recent health struggles to regain top form in limited minutes. 

If Colorado is to find sustainable success and live up to preseason expectations — they were Stanley Cup favorites coming into this campaign — then they’re going to need MacKinnon healthy and at the top of his game, so things have been trending in an encouraging direction in recent weeks. 

This week, they clock in at No.3 in the rankings, behind only the Lightning and Golden Knights — two teams that have looked like legitimate power houses nearly all season long. So, can Avs get comfortable in that spot? That’s to be seen.

Biggest Movers








Yup, they’re still here — same place they’ve been all season long. Joe Smith of The Athletic brought up an interesting conversation this week: Should we start thinking about Andrei Vasilevskiy as a possible Hart Trophy candidate? 23-6-2


Golden Knights

They’ve won 11 of 14 and are near the top of the league in both offense and defense. They continue to threaten Tampa’s throne, but the Lightning just won’t relent enough to surrender the top spot. 21-7-1



Nathan MacKinnon in on a tear, racking up nine points (including four goals) in his last five games. Meanwhile, Colorado has won six in a row and eight of their last 10. 5 19-8-2



Some fatigue may have caught up to them after winning eight in a row but they’re still looking like they might be the best team in that East division. 20-8-4



Carter Verhaeghe continues to emerge as a star for the Panthers and now he’s got eight points (including four goals) in his last seven games. 1 20-7-4



They’ve lost three in a row, including one to the Red Wings and two to the Blue Jackets. That’s…not great. Silver lining: They did get two loser points. 3 20-7-3



Their win streak was snapped at seven games over the weekend but they’ve still taken 11 of their last 13 and are looking really good. 20-7-4


Maple Leafs

A major slide has been plaguing the kings of the North and now the throne is in danger of being relinquished. They’ve lost six of their last eight and if goaltending wasn’t a point of concern before, it probably should be now. 3 20-10-2



They’re getting hot at the right time and now they’ve got a chance to overtake the struggling Leafs. The big question (and a familiar one for Edmonton) is whether their success is sustainable given the lack of depth. 3 21-13-0



They had a full head of steam heading into two dates with the Avalanche before getting thoroughly humbled by Colorado. They’ve got to hope the Matt Dumba injury isn’t too serious. 1 18-10-1



They’ve course-corrected a bit after surrendering ground in the East but they’re definitely going to need to upgrade offensively if they want to make a serious playoff push. The good news? They’ve still got seven games against the Sabres. 1 16-8-4



Another season in which the Penguins are getting crushed by injuries. Pittsburgh was finding a bit of a resurgence before Evgeni Malkin went down with an injury that leaves his status in doubt. 1 19-11-2



Tough two-game set against the Oilers to close out last week. They seemed to lack killer instinct and left at least three points on the table. Can’t continue to happen if they want to maximize their playoff chances. 2 18-11-2



They continue to work on climbing their way out of the hole they dug for themselves but they haven’t won consecutive games since February 1-2. 2 14-8-9



The Blues have been just kind of hanging out in the middle of things but they’re still comfortably in a playoff spot and waiting to get a number of key players back. You’ve got to cut them some slack. 16-10-5



Their 9-0 win over the Flyers was one of the most impressive ass-kickings I’ve ever witnessed in professional sports in my lifetime. That alone is worth bumping them up a few slots, especially if Mika Zibanejad has been jumpstarted. 3 13-13-4



Just no way I could put them above the Rangers after that bloodbath last week. 3 15-11-3



They’ve won seven of their last 10 but still finding ways to leave points on the table. If they can clean things up then they might be able to make some noise down the stretch. 5 16-16-3



They continue to be extraordinarily frustrating. Even when they play well they still manage to find ways to lose. They should be the fourth playoff team in the Central but they can’t finish games. 2 10-10-8



The Darryl Sutter era is underway and things are only looking slightly more promising. 2 15-14-3



I’ve spent the entire season waiting for the floor to fall out on the surprising Hawks and it appears the slide may be underway. They’ve lost four straight and are now out of a playoff spot. 4 14-13-5



The only really exciting thing about this team right now is the fact that they seem willing to move almost anyone at the deadline. There could be an organizational shift kick-started midway through the campaign. 2 13-13-5



With the emergence of Cal Petersen, I wonder if the Kings could convince someone to take Jonathan Quick off their hands at a reduced price. If not, you wonder if he’ll be headed to Seattle after this season. 1 13-11-6


Blue Jackets

They’ve won a few games and, as incredible as it sounds, they’re currently in the playoff picture. That says more about the Central than it does Columbus, though. 2 13-12-7



Has Kyle Palmieri packed his bags yet? 11-14-4



The need to reset has been officially acknowledged, so now it’s time to find out who’s going to be on the way out in the initial waves. 2 11-14-4



I’d imagine this team is going to start looking pretty different, for better or for worse, in the coming weeks. Wouldn’t be surprised if they got a head start on selling at the deadline. 14-17-1



Trevor Zegras scored his first NHL goal, it was beautiful and it came on a feed from fellow good American boy, Troy Terry. What more could you want? 9-17-6


Red Wings

There’s nothing really exciting happening here right now. Is it the trade deadline yet? 10-18-4



“Big Time Timmy Jim” Stutzle continues to skyrocket up the list of must-watch talents in the NHL. Very excited to see where he’ll be in a few years, and hopefully the Sens will be relevant by then. 10-20-3



Ralph Krueger is out and one would have to imagine he’s just the first. Things are an unmitigated disaster (13 straight losses) and they may just have to blow the entire thing up. 6-19-4

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