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EDITOR'S NOTE: You've arrived at the CBJ Power Rankings, our weekly breakdown of the top-five players, statistics, trends and many other Blue Jackets-related categories. If you're looking for the traditional power rankings, you've come to the wrong place. We'll go in-depth and outside the box, and hopefully give you something to think about.

For this week's rankings, we're taking a look at the next five games on the Blue Jackets' schedule. Why, you ask? This could be the most pivotal stretch of schedule so far this season; with the team facing more injuries yet still finding a way to stay in the Metropolitan Division playoff race, these next five games (and hopefully, the return of Nathan Horton mixed in or shortly thereafter) could play a major role in the playoff fate of not just the Blue Jackets, but several teams they're competing with for one of the three automatic berths in the Metro.

We're ready, but are YOU ready? Let's get it started. 



COLORADO AVALANCHE
RECORD: 23-10-2, 48 PTS (3RD, CENTRAL)
ON THE DOCKET: DEC. 31 AT PEPSI CENTER




Old friends from their days in the Western Conference, the Blue Jackets and Avalanche meet up for the first time this season on New Year's Eve in Denver. The Avalanche, under the direction of first-year head coach Patrick Roy (that name rings a bell, eh?), started the 2013-14 season as one of the hottest teams in the NHL and quickly vaulted to the top of the conference standings. Things have leveled off a bit since then and the West has asserted itself as the dominant conference, leaving the Avalanche - at 48 points and 13 games over the .500 mark - tenuously holding on to the final playoff spot in the Central Division. 

The Avalanche have played better of late, going 4-4-2 in their last 10, but more than anything they're caught in the total logjam that is the Western Conference standings. In the Eastern Conference, Colorado would have quite the cushion on a playoff spot but as is life in the West, they're teetering on the brink of in-or-out on a nightly basis. 


 

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