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NHL Power Rankings: A rough week

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NHL Power Rankings: A rough week

The Caps are coming off of one of, if not the worst week of their season. Washington has now lost three of four games and all three of those losses came in devastating fashion.

On Feb. 11, the Caps hosted a scuffling Detroit Red Wings team and saw the Wings build a 4-1 lead in the second period, a period in which the Caps were outshot 17-2. Washington battled back to tie the game, but ultimately lost in overtime. Tuesday in Winnipeg the Caps held a 3-1 lead in the third period, but allowed the Jets to mount a comeback and tie the game with just 15 seconds remaining in regulation before losing in overtime. Then, of course, there was Saturday's 7-1 blowout at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks, a team that had lost eight straight coming into that game.

SEE THIS WEEK'S NHL POWER RANKINGS HERE

To make matters worse, the Pittsburgh Penguins keep on winning and now hold a one-point lead over Washington. So yeah, things were not great.

The bad news is that, with the recent surges of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and even New Jersey, the Caps have to figure things out fast or they could continue to fall in the standings fairly quickly.

The good news is that they still remain in a relatively good position should they rebound. The Penguins do hold a one-point lead in the standings, but the Caps remain very much in the driver's seat of the division with three games in hand.

Four games separate Washington from the Feb. 26 trade deadline. The Caps will play in Buffalo, host Tampa Bay, play in Florida and host Buffalo. Winning three of those four games, especially if they can beat the dominant Lightning, will go a long way towards putting last week in the rearview mirror. Another tough week, however, could force the hand of general manager Brian MacLellan to make an unanticipated move at the trade deadline in order to keep a playoff season from falling apart.

After a week like that, it's no surprise to see Washington fall in this week's NHL Power Rankings. You can see the full rankings here.

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NHL Power Rankings: Still in good shape

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NHL Power Rankings: Still in good shape

The big matchup for the Caps this week was a home-and-home with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Washington swept both games, but there is still consternation with the fact the Caps have lost three of their last five overall.

You would think that would put them in a precarious position in the competitive Metropolitan Division, but they are still in good shape.

SEE THIS WEEK'S NHL POWER RANKINGS HERE

Here's a look at the standings:

Washington: 55 games played, 32-17-6, 70 points
Pittsburgh: 57 games played, 31-22-4, 66 points
Philadelphia: 56 games played, 28-19-9, 65 points
New Jersey: 55 games played, 27-20-8, 62 points
Carolina: 56 games played, 26-21-9, 61 points
Columbus: 55 games played, 28-23-4, 60 points
New York Islanders: 57 games played, 27-24-6, 60 points
New York Rangers: 56 games played, 27-24-5, 59 points

Yes, the Penguins and Flyers are gaining on the Caps, but Washington has only played in 55 games. That gives them one in hand over Philadelphia and two over Pittsburgh to go with their points lead.

Despite a down week for Washington, they hold a sizable lead over the two teams that post the biggest threat to them in the Metro standings.

But is Washington still the team to beat in the division? Find out here in this week's NHL Power Rankings.

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NHL Power Rankings: An early taste of playoff hockey

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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.