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NHL Power Rankings: An early taste of playoff hockey

The Caps have lost six of their last nine games. The Columbus Blue Jackets have lost 10 of their last 15. With both teams currently sputtering, that makes this week's home-and-home series between the two extremely important.

Home-and-home series seem to take on greater significance than normal regular season games. By playing the same team twice in a row, it can feel like a mini-series. It changes the way the coaches and players approach those games and it boosts the intensity up a notch.

SEE THIS WEEK'S NHL POWER RANKINGS HERE

Add in the fact that these are two teams in desperate need of wins and we could be in for some pretty compelling hockey this week.

So far, their recent struggles have not cost the Caps as they still sit atop the Metropolitan Division, but their lead has shrunk to just three points. The outlook is not as rosy for Columbus which currently sits in the top wild card spot. Two wins could propel them back into the top three of the division. Two losses could see them fall out of a playoff spot altogether.

A lot more is on the line this week than you would usually expect for early February.

How do these two teams currently stack up among the rest of the NHL? Find out here in this week's NHL Power Rankings.