We are down to the wire.
With two games remaining the Blue Jackets are this close to locking up a playoff berth. You can feel it. You can taste it.
First, let's take a look at the battle for the final two spots in the Metropolitan Division as well as the Eastern Conference's two wildcard spots.
|PITTSBURGH PENGUINS||METROPOLITAN||80||45||29||6||96||43||@ CBJ (4/5), vs OTT (4/6)|
|COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS||METROPOLITAN||80||45||29||6||96||39||vs PIT (4/5), @ NSH (4/7)|
|NEW JERSEY DEVILS||METROPOLITAN||80||43||28||9||95||38||vs TOR (4/5), @ WSH (4/7)|
|PHILADELPHIA FLYERS||METROPOLITAN||80||40||26||14||94||38||vs CAR (4/5), vs NYR (4/7)|
|FLORIDA PANTHERS||ATLANTIC||79||41||30||8||90||38||vs BOS (4/5), vs. BUF (4/7), @ BOS (4/8)|
Yep, it's stacked.
Only four of those five teams will make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Here's what you need to know.
How Can the Blue Jackets Clinch a Playoff Berth?
It's really simple. For the Blue Jackets to clinch a playoff berth, they need to lock down just one point in their final two games. That's it. Take one of those games to overtime, and even if they finish winless, they're in.
If the Blue Jackets happen to lose their final two games in regulation, things get a bit more interesting. Should that happen, they can still get some help. The Blue Jackets will clinch a spot if the Panthers, Flyers or Devils stumble.
Here are all of the ways the Blue Jackets can make it into the playoffs. Remember, the Jackets need just one of these things to happen to punch their ticket:
- Columbus gets one point in its final two games
- Florida loses any one of their three remaining games (and they have two games against the red hot Bruins left)
- Florida goes 3–0 to finish, but wins every game in a shootout
- Philadelphia loses one of its two remaining games
- New Jersey loses both of their remaining games in regulation
Given this, the odds of the Blue Jackets missing the playoffs are tiny. Go ahead and start making plans for the greatest postseason on earth.
Okay, the Jackets are Practically in – what about passing the Penguins?
We're glad you asked. First up, the Blue Jackets have to beat Pittsburgh at Nationwide Arena Thursday. That will give Columbus a two-point lead with one game remaining for each team. From there, the Blue Jackets have to get an equal or better result in the final game of the season – Columbus travels to Nashville, who may be resting their starters and the Pens welcome Ottawa, who have checked out of this season in their respective finales.
So really, Thursday night's game is H-U-G-E. It very well may settle home ice for the first round series the two teams are headed towards.
Should the teams end tied in points, Pittsburgh does have the edge in ROW – regulation or overtime wins – due to six more shootouts Columbus participated in.