Three games in four nights — starting tonight in Philadelphia — will help decide whether the Blue Jackets return to the playoffs for just the second time in franchise history.
According to Sports Club Stats, Columbus has a 79.9 percent chance of qualifying for the postseason. A record in the neighborhood of 3-3-1 in the team’s final seven games should get the job done.
After tonight’s game, the Jackets return home to face the Blackhawks (who are minus Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane for the rest of the regular season) on Friday, and then the Islanders Sunday.
If they can get four points out of those three games, they’ll be sitting nicely with a home game against Phoenix on Tuesday, followed by a three-game road trip (to Dallas, Tampa Bay, and Florida) to close out the schedule.
If they somehow blow it, they’ll have wasted a golden opportunity to give their long-suffering fans some playoff excitement.
Despite the team’s struggles since entering the NHL in 2000, there remains a feeling that Columbus could be an outstanding hockey market, if only the Jackets were more successful on the ice. It’s not a city with much in the way of pro-sports competition, and the biggest show in town — Ohio State football — only runs until January (at the latest).
“We’ve still got work to do with some folks, and we’ve not shied away from that,” president of hockey operations John Davidson told the Columbus Dispatch recently. “People have been disappointed by their hockey team here through the years, and so we have a lot to prove to those people.”
This hasn’t been the best night for St. Louis sports fans.
Obviously, the MLB’s Cardinals getting bounced from the playoffs is a bigger deal, but the Blues face bad news, too.
While they’re currently leading the Calgary Flames by a score of 4-3, they’ll need to hang on without Kevin Shattenkirk, whose night is over thanks to a lower-body injury.
There’s no word yet on how severe the issue might be.
Naturally, the Blues must hope that it’s minor, as Shattenkirk is one of the NHL’s truly underrated assets on the blueline.
Stephanie (@MyRegularFace) tracked down a moment when the injury may have happened:
It’s not all rosy for the Flames, either, as Lance Bouma suffered an injury as well.
In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.
For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.
Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.
Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.
They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.
Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.