The Race to the 2019 Playoffs: With Two Weeks to Go, Here’s How the Columbus Blue Jackets Stack Up

Here’s what the race looks like with just over two weeks to go until the end of the regular season.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have eight games remaining, and are currently out of the playoff picture after last night’s debacle. This week is huge, and every game from here on out matters for not only the Blue Jackets, but other teams in the playoff race. There are nine teams in the Eastern Conference competing for just eight spots, and there’s going to be scoreboard watching up and down the eastern seaboard as the season comes to a close.

Here’s what each team in the race faces over the next week. (Philadelphia was excluded, because no, they’re not making it, despite what NBC is trying make happen)

New York Islanders

at Philadelphia Flyers - Saturday, March 23
Arizona Coyotes - Sunday, March 24
at Columbus Blue Jackets - Tuesday, March 26
at Winnipeg Jets - Thursday, March 28

The Islanders have a tough week ahead, with three out of four games on the road including one visiting Nationwide Arena to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Islanders have struggled to score at even strength of late, a sign that their PDO may finally be regressing to the mean after a season of above average shooting and goaltending.

Pittsburgh Penguins

at Dallas Stars - Saturday, March 23
at New York Rangers - Monday, March 25

Please lose out to end the season. Thank you, next.

Carolina Hurricanes

Minnesota Wild - Saturday, March 23
Montreal Canadiens - Sunday, March 24
at Washington Capitals - Tuesday, March 26
Washington Capitals - Thursday, March 28

The biggest games for Carolina next week are their home and homes with Washington. From a Blue Jackets standpoint, it would behoove the team to see a regulation result (win, loss, whatever, just no more than two points in that game) versus Montreal, and then see Carolina lose both games to the Metro leading Capitals. Carolina is competing directly with the Blue Jackets for the first wild card spot, and watching their scoreboard every night they play has become routine.

Columbus Blue Jackets

at Vancouver Canucks - Sunday, March 24
New York Islanders - Tuesday, March 26
Montreal Canadiens - Thursday, March 28

They have to win them all.

This is not an exaggeration. The Columbus Blue Jackets face off with a team they should beat on paper, but boasts the presumptive rookie of the year (the Vancouver Canucks), host a Metro opponent who has owned them this season at home (the New York Islanders, whom the Jackets have scored just two goals against in  their last nine periods), and their closest competitor for the 8 seed (the Montreal Canadiens). There is not one easy game on this schedule, but the roller coaster Jackets have to find a way to get it done.

Montreal Canadiens

Buffalo Sabres - Saturday, March 23
at Carolina Hurricanes - Sunday, March 24
Florida Panthers - Tuesday, March 26
at Columbus Blue Jackets - Thursday, March 26

It would be nice if Montreal went 0-3 and, regardless of the result against Carolina, it was a two point game.

That is not realistic to happen, however. Montreal is 0-3 against Buffalo, but the teams haven’t met in 2019. Florida has been hot and cold of late, but Montreal likely has the goaltending to win that matchup. Columbus must find a way to win against Montreal, and hope that the Carolina/Montreal result is a two point game.

With just eight games to go, every single night matters going forward. Columbus fans will do a lot of scoreboard watching over the next week.

If you’re not stressing, it’s not worth it. Right?

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