The Chase is your morning report on where the Blue Jackets stand in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs race. What happened, what's next, and who to cheer for.
Welcome to the final installment of The Chase this season. And boy are we happy to end things on a high note with the Blue Jackets winning a wild one against the Rangers to punch the Eastern Conference's final ticket to the postseason.
Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and winger Artemi Panarin put on a show in Madison Square Garden Friday night, particularly in the shootout, to secure a 3-2 win and two precious points. The Jackets' set a club record with their 24th road win and the team's 96 points are their third-most in a single season, with one more game to try to make it the second-most.
Columbus will hit the ice in Ottawa tonight (7 p.m. FS-O) to close out the regular season and maybe, just maybe, play their way into the first wild card spot.
Here's where we stand on Saturday, April 6.
|(x) WASHINGTON CAPITALS||81||48||25||8||104||44||W1||6–3–1||NYI||—||—|
|(x) NY ISLANDERS||81||47||27||7||101||42||W1||6–4–0||@ WSH||—||—|
|(x) PITTSBURGH PENGUINS||81||44||26||11||99||42||W1||5–3–2||NYR||—||—|
|(p) TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING||81||61||16||4||126||55||W1||7–3–0||@ BOS||—||—|
|(x) BOSTON BRUINS||81||49||23||9||107||47||W2||7–3–0||TBL||—||—|
|(x) TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS||81||46||28||7||99||46||L2||3–5–2||@ MTL||—||—|
|(x) CAROLINA HURRICANES||81||45||29||7||97||43||W2||6–4–0||@ PHI||59.6%||28.4%|
|(x) COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS||81||46||31||4||96||44||W1||6–3–1||@ OTT||28.4%||71.6%|
p - Clinched President's Trophy; x - Clinched Playoff Spot
Can we just admire that beautiful “x” next to the Blue Jackets name for a minute?
Are we good? Excellent.
All eight playoff teams in the Eastern Conference are accounted for, with only the wild card positioning and second place in the Metropolitan Division left to be decided. As of right now, here are your Game 1 matchups in the Eastern Conference:
- COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS at TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
- CAROLINA HURRICANES at WASHINGTON CAPITALS
- PITTSBURGH PENGUINS at NEW YORK ISLANDERS
- TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS at BOSTON BRUINS
As always, the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which start Tuesday night, promise to be lit.
Tonight's Game(s) of Interest
|Home||Away||Who to Cheer for|
|OTTAWA (29–46–6, 64p)||COLUMBUS (46–31–4, 96p)||The boys in white.|
|PHILADELPHIA (37–36–8, 82p)||CAROLINA (45–29–7, 97p)||Praise be to Gritty. Let's do this, Flyers.|
If the Blue Jackets can earn one more point than the Carolina Hurricanes in both teams' final regular season game tonight, they'll jump the Canes into WC1 and avoid the make-you-look-silly-machine that is the Tampa Bay Lightning.
There are a couple of ways the Jackets can do that, thanks to their 44-43 ROW advantage:
- Blue Jackets beat the Senators and Hurricanes lose to the Flyers in regulation or overtime
- Blue Jackets lose to Senators in overtime and Hurricanes lose to the Flyers in regulation
So Columbus will need a little help to avoid the Lightning in the first round, but if you have your choice of opponents in these two wild card-deciding games, you have to like getting league-worst Ottawa.
There will be extra juice to that CBJ–OTT game tonight, however, with Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel returning to the city they called home at the start of the season, and former Blue Jacket and now Senator Anthony Duclair looking to prove something for the Jackets seemingly giving up on him.
Blue Jackets Playoff Odds
|Make It In||2nd Rnd||Conf. Finals||SC Finals||Win SC||Win Metro||2nd Metro||3rd Metro||WC1||WC2|
Odds courtesy of MoneyPuck.com
Money Puck's model gives the Blue Jackets a little better than a 1-in-4 chance of getting the results they need tonight to jump into WC1, which hey, let's roll.
What's really interesting is that despite finishing in a wild card spot, the Jackets have the fifth-best odds to win the Stanley Cup in the Eastern Conference, behind Tampa Bay, Washington, Toronto and Boston. That reflects both how well this team is playing down the stretch and what they're capable of when playing their best.
Today's stress ball: We're going to watch this Artemi Panarin beauty from last night a few more times.