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Game Preview #80 - A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Draft...

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Toronto is tanking. Columbus is "tanking but not trying to tank, really". Who's got the best shot? Who wants it more?

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Blue Jackets at Maple Leafs - 7:00 PM
Game Faceoff

So, there's some serious math being done here. If Columbus gets two points in any fashion, they eliminate themselves from any chance of finishing 30th in the league; Edmonton has 67 points, and only two games left. Which is good on a karmic level, I suppose. Or for morale. Or something.

Toronto and Columbus are tied in games played, but Toronto sits at 67 points. A regulation win for the Leafs tonight? Things for 29th get interesting, though Columbus has more ROW and would have to lose out most likely to pass Toronto into 29th place. Edmonton has clearly checked out, getting waxed by Calgary 5-0 in their last game, and play Vancouver twice to finish the season. The Nucks have won three in a row. It's looking more and more likely that Edmonton is going to finish dead last, even after having the first overall pick four times in the last six years.

What the entire f**k?

At any rate, the Jackets have been in this weird space lately where they're playing well and losing, which is good for the draft lottery, but bears mixed results overall. The team has been mixing some young kids into the lineup with some bright spots and hopes for optimism.

The Leafs sold off everything that wasn't nailed down before the trade deadline, but have gone a respectable 7-9-1 since the trade deadline to come back to the pack a bit. For comparison's sake, Columbus is 5-10-0 since then.

As much as I want this season to end--mercifully, please--it's hard not to pay attention to this game because it does have real ramifications for the immediate future for Columbus. Any chance to give yourself a chance at the top three players in this draft... you have to take it. I know I root for the team to play well when they're on the ice, but at this moment, it's so damn hard not to root for a loss tonight.

But, look at that Leafs' lineup.

You know Columbus is going to win this game by four. Because of course they are.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(31-40-8, 70 Points; 8th division, 15th conference)

Boone Jenner Brandon Dubinsky Cam Atkinson
Scott Hartnell Alexander Wennberg Brandon Saad
Matt Calvert William Karlsson BJORKSTRAND
Nick Foligno Gregory Campbell Josh Anderson
Ryan Murray Seth Jones
Justin Falk David Savard
Dean Kukan Dalton Prout
Sergei Bobrovsky
Joonas Korpisalo

Toronto Maple Leafs
(28-40-11, 67 Points - 8th Division, 16th Conference)

Tobias Lindberg Tyler Bozak P.A. Parenteau
Colin Greening William Nylander Kasperi Kapanen
Brooks Laich Frederik Gauthier Michael Grabner
Sam Carrick Byron Froese Brad Boyes
Morgan Rielly Martin Marincin
Jake Gardiner Frank Corrado
Andrew Campbell T.J. Brennan
Garret Sparks
Jonathan Bernier