Playoff Cutoff: Analyzing What the Blue Jackets Have to Do Down the Stretch

By Nic Hendrickson on February 4, 2020 at 11:30 am
The Columbus Blue Jackets surround goaltender Elvis Merzlikins after a win over the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

With just 29 games left in the 2019-20 regular season, the Columbus Blue Jackets find themselves in third place in the Metropolitan Division, something almost no one saw coming. Heck, going into this season many experts had them slated to be one of the worst in the league, not a team contending in the toughest division in the NHL.

Looking back at previous seasons is a good way to get a general sense of the Blue Jackets' postseason chances; the best way to do this is to take a look at the playoff point cutoff mark for those who made it, and then apply it to the remainder of the season.

The first season we'll look at is 2014-15. That season had the Pittsburgh Penguins with the lowest point total of any playoff team, with 98 respectively. The other four Wild Card teams had 99, 99 and 100 respectively.

In 2015-16 it changed quite drastically with the lowest Wild Card team (the Minnesota Wild) having only 87 points on the season. After that, there was Nashville with 96, Philadelphia at 96 and the Islanders at 100. This averages out to 94.75 points on the season.

Moving into 2016-17, the race for the playoffs was a tight one in the East–and the point totals for wild cards were higher, as well. The Rangers finished the season on 102 points, seven points ahead of the Leafs' 95. In the Western Conference, the two wild card teams were Calgary and Nashville, both finishing on 94.

Both the Jackets and New Jersey finished with 97 points in 2017-18. In the West, the Los Angeles Kings finished with 98 and Colorado finished with 95 points.

And then finally we'll look at last year (2018-19), which just so happens to be the year the Blue Jackets swept the Tampa Bay Lightning for their first-ever playoff series win. The Jackets were once again in the wild card race, finishing with 98 points, one shy of fellow Metropolitan Division rival Carolina. In the West, it was Dallas on 93 points and Colorado on 90.

So, to break this all down, over the last five full seasons a team would have had to finish with an average of 96.35 points. With the Jackets sitting on 65 points with 29 games remaining, this means they would have to theoretically get 31 or 32 points from said games to make the cut, over a point-per-game pace.

While this sounds like a daunting task to many, this would be an achievable goal if they continued the pace they've set (or something close to it), as they have 65 points in 53 games. With Joonas Korpisalo joining training and traveling recently, this means that a playoff-contending Jackets squad could be going down the stretch with two goalies who have proven themselves to be solid this season, something that bodes well for their chances to make the cut again in 2020.

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