Columbus Blue Jackets are Playoff Bound
The Blue Jackets, with a 3-1 win on the road over the Dallas Stars Wednesday night, clinched a playoff spot in their first season in the Eastern Conference. With two games to go, they currently sit in the first Wildcard position in the Eastern Conference standings with 91 points. The win gives them a franchise best 42 victories, one more than the 41 wins they accumulated during their only other playoff season, 2008-2009, when they lost to the Detroit Red Wings in the first round. The Jackets are also one point shy of tying the franchise record for most points in a season.
The CBJ ended the lockout shortened 2012-13 season winning eight of their last nine games, which, unfortunately, wasn’t enough to make last season’s playoffs. However, that late run of success set the tone for this season. Although the year began in average fashion, the Blue Jackets started to build momentum in January when they won a team-record eight straight games, and have continued playing great hockey since, combining stellar goal-tending by Sergei Bobrovsky with the highest goal scoring output in franchise history.
In order for the Blue Jackets to move into a higher position in the playoff standings, they would need to either surpass the Philadelphia Flyers in total points (they are currently tied at 91 points), or, in the event of a tie in total points, they would need to have more non-shootout wins over the Flyers, a tiebreaker category in which they currently trail by one (38-37). If that number should end in a tie, the Blue Jackets would have the points scored in head-to-head games tiebreaker over the Flyers 17-10. Separately, in the Wildcard race, the Blue Jackets hold the tiebreaker over Detroit, who is battling for the other Wildcard spot, due to having more non-shootout wins.
If the Blue Jackets are able to move ahead of Philadelphia and secure 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division, they would take on the New York Rangers in the playoffs. If they stay ahead of Detroit but don’t pass the Flyers they would play the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners of the Metropolitan Division. If the Blue Jackets finish in the 2nd Wildcard spot, they would play the Boston Bruins, winners of the Atlantic Division.
In any case, there is still meaningful hockey to be played. The Jackets finish the season at Tampa Bay on Friday night, and then at Florida on Saturday evening with their eye on improving their playoff position.
Philadelphia ends the season at Tampa Bay on Thursday, at Pittsburgh on Saturday, and home against Carolina on Sunday. Detroit finishes the season vs. Carolina on Friday and then at St. Louis on Sunday.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs begin next Wednesday, April 16th.
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