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.”