If you like controlling your own destiny, the fact that San Jose beat Dallas last night is a big help. If the Jackets win on Thursday, it officially puts them out of the hunt.
The problem is, Minnesota hung on in a nailbiter against LA, so now they're back in a bit more control, with games against Edmonton and Colorado to end their season. Maybe the newly re-invigorated Avalanche puts out a good effort for their home finale, but now that the Oilers have shut down Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for the season, I have my doubts about their ability to put up a fight.
Tonight, there's one game and one game only we're keeping an eye on in the West.
If Los Angeles can beat Detroit in regulation, the Jackets are firmly in the driver's seat. That loss, plus wins against Dallas and Nashville, would put Columbus into the 8th seed for sure. (Maybe even the 7th seed with a little luck, but I wouldn't count on it.)
On the other hand, if Detroit wins in regulation OR gets a point in OT or the shootout...the road gets tougher, and we have to start hoping for some help.
Winnipeg has one game left against Montreal, on Thursday. If Winnipeg wins, and the Rangers drop their final games against Carolina and New Jersey...suddenly, they're on the outside looking in.
I'd call that a stretch, but I'd have said the same thing about the Panthers knocking them off last night.
Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.