Gaborik: Jackets will ‘leave everything out there’ in fight for playoffs


The Columbus Blue Jackets — currently sitting 10th in the Western Conference, with 41 points — have a tall task ahead in trying to make the playoffs.

They’ll likely need to win six of their remaining eight games, six of which are on the road, where the Jackets are a lowly 5-11-2 this season.

Of course, the newest Jacket is looking at things more optimistically.

“We have eight games left,” Marian Gaborik told the Canadian Press. “We’re going to keep fighting ’till the end.

“We want to leave everything out there every game. Hopefully we can make it interesting to the end and fight for the playoffs.”

The Blue Jackets, who whipped the Sharks 4-0 last night, have a few days to sit and ponder their future.

They won’t play again until hosting St. Louis at Nationwide on Friday, and will then set on out the make-or-break portion of their season — a six-game road swing through Minnesota, Colorado, Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose and Dallas.

All told, Columbus will play six road dates in 12 nights, including a tough Ducks-Kings back-to-back on Apr. 17/18.

According to Sports Club Stats, the Jackets currently hold a slim 7.6 percent chance of making the playoffs. It’s the reality after getting off to an NHL-worst 5-12-2 start, only to gain remarkable ground with a home stretch in March where they played nine of 10 in Columbus (going 8-0-2).

Now, Columbus needs to win tough games at the toughest time of the year.

But even if it doesn’t work out, director of hockey ops John Davidson says the experience has been invaluable.

“If we had kept going and gotten into a situation where there was no pressure on our team for the last six weeks of the season, that’s lost time,” he said. “Wherever this goes we’re going to — for sure — have gotten something out of it, and that’s just the fact that it’s a very good culture.

“It’s a very good locker room and it’s a team that’s developed because of playing pressure games down the stretch.”

After healthy scratch, Severson vows to play ‘next 80 games’

Jimmy Hayes, Damon Severson
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Damon Severson was a healthy scratch on Saturday.

It’s the last game he wants to miss this season.

“I had a good chat with a few people and just pretty much said, ‘I want to be in the next 80 games,’” Severson said, per The Record. “I sat out my game and that’s all I want to be out for for the year.”

Severson is one of the Devils’ most important young players. But this is also the 21-year-old defenseman’s sophomore season, and that’s when slumps can occur.

Hence, the early message he was sent by the coaching staff.

Severson is expected to be back in the lineup tonight when New Jersey hosts Nashville.

“He doesn’t have to be perfect,” coach John Hynes told reporters. “We’d just like to see him have a high compete level. We know he’s ready to go. We had a couple of good meetings with him. He’s in a good spot mentally. I know he’s ready to roll.”

Virtanen to make NHL debut tonight versus Kings

Jake Virtanen
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Jake Virtanen, the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, will make his NHL debut tonight when his Canucks meet the Kings in Los Angeles.

The 19-year-old winger was a healthy scratch for Vancouver’s first three games of the regular season. He had two goals and two assists in six preseason games.

“I can’t wait,” he told reporters. “My energy is high. I want to get a couple of hits on my first shift.”

Big and physical with goal-scoring ability, the consensus is that Virtanen will remain in the NHL and not be returned to junior after he’s played nine games. That consensus could always change based on his play, of course.

The Canucks — who won last night in Anaheim — did not have a full skate this morning, so it’s unclear who will come out of the lineup. The best guess is rookie Jared McCann, who’s been playing third-line center.

If McCann does come out, the Canucks could move Brandon Sutter to third-line center and Virtanen could take Sutter’s spot on the first line with the Sedin twins. Or, there could be more extensive line juggling.