If the Jackets do end up missing the playoffs, they’ll no doubt be left kicking themselves for losing to Carolina at home last week and getting shut out by the Islanders on the road Sunday.
“These points are huge right now,” center Ryan Johansen said after the 2-0 defeat on Long Island. “Against a team like the Islanders, who are playing spoiler right now, it’s very frustrating. We’ve got to learn from it but we can’t dwell on this.”
Indeed, if the Jackets get a win tonight versus Detroit (on NBCSN), their playoff hopes will improve rather dramatically.
Combine that with free-falling Toronto being an underdog at home to St. Louis and Washington facing a tough matchup versus Los Angeles, and tonight could be seriously pivotal for Columbus, a much-maligned franchise that badly needs to make the postseason in order to regain a measure of respect in the local market.
Attendance-wise, the Jackets are averaging just 14,325 fans this season; only Phoenix (13,585) is lower than that.
Still, there remains a feeling that Columbus could be a great NHL town, if only the Jackets could become a perennial playoff team, as opposed to the one that’s made the postseason just once since entering the league in 2000.
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