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.
RECORD: 27-10-1, 55 PTS (1ST, METRO)
ON THE DOCKET: DEC. 29 AT NATIONWIDE ARENA
At one point last week, the Penguins were missing 10 regular players from their lineup...but it has not slowed them during the absolute tear they've been on lately. Pittsburgh has won nine of its last 10 games and currently holds a 13-point lead over second place Washington in the Metropolitan Division standings.
The Blue Jackets and Penguins have met twice already this season (both regulation victories for Pittsburgh) and meeting No. 3 of five takes place Sunday, Dec. 29 at Nationwide Arena - the Jackets' second game and first on home ice following the Christmas break. The Penguins are still missing some key pieces and their defense has been hit hardest by the injury bug, with half of their top-six defensemen missing time and as a result, being forced to ice one of the most inexperienced group of defensemen in the NHL. Oh, did we mention the Penguins lead the league in man games lost due to injury? It hasn't made much of a difference for Dan Byslma's club, which has relied on solid defensive play and timely scoring to remain atop the Metro.