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Avalanche Vs. Blue Jackets: Colorado Looks For 5th Straight Victory

By all accounts, the Colorado Avalanche had a great month of February. The team went 7-3-2 over that span, they welcomed back Peter Mueller and Matt Duchene back from injury, caught fire with the Steve Downie trade, and goalie Semyon Varlamov was incredibly good (.942 SV% over his last 7 games).

Western Standings

Vancouver Canucks 64 40-16-8 88
St. Louis Blues 64 40-17-7 87
Phoenix Coyotes 63 33-21-9 75
Detroit Red Wings 64 42-19-3 87
Nashville Predators 64 37-20-7 81
Chicago Blackhawks 65 34-24-7 75
San Jose Sharks 62 33-22-7 73
Dallas Stars 64 33-26-5 71
Colorado Avalanche 64 33-27-4 70
Los Angeles Kings 64 29-23-12 70
Calgary Flames 63 28-24-11 67
Minnesota Wild 63 28-26-9 65
Anaheim Ducks 64 27-27-10 64
Edmonton Oilers 63 25-32-6 56
Columbus Blue Jackets 63 18-38-7 43

There the Avalanche sit, still stuck in 9th place despite their successful month.

Why? Here are the February records for some of their closest competition:

Phoenix 11-0-1

Dallas 8-5-3

Calgary 5-2-5

Colorado's current competition is gaining enough points in the standings to keep up with the playoff race. Aside from the red-hot Coyotes, the Avalanche have been outperforming the rest of their competition but with so many overtime games handing out an extra point, it's difficult to create any separation in the standings.

With Chicago scuffling, the last three playoff spots in the Western Conference are now up for grabs -- and there at least six teams with a good shot at one of those berths. Colorado needs to keep collecting wins to make that happen.

Enter the Columbus Blue Jackets. This franchise is redefining what "rock bottom" looks like in the NHL, and this game at the Pepsi Center is epitome of a trap game. Columbus has lost three in a row and are rocketing towards that first overall selection in the June draft. Colorado is the much better team and should win this game easily, but if Columbus catches them looking ahead to Pittsburgh this Saturday, the Avalanche can find themselves in trouble early.

Colorado has won both meetings between these two teams this season, and Gabriel Landeskog has scored a goal in both games. Newly acquired winger Jamie McGinn will make his debut in an Avalanche sweater.

Puck drops at 7:00 p.m. MDT

For more coverage, visit our Avalanche blog Mile High Hockey and our Blue Jackets blog Jackets Cannon.