15 games to go. Are you ready?
We're into the final countdown of games for the Columbus Blue Jackets on the 2019-2020 season, and it may just come down to a buzzer-beater decision for their playoff hopes.
If the campaign ended today, the Blue Jackets would be on their way to a fourth consecutive playoff appearance, increasing their mark as one of the more successful (at least in the regular season) NHL teams in the last few years.
Right now, as the second wild-card team, the Blue Jackets would be set to play the Boston Bruins in the first round of the postseason. However, right on their heels to take their spot away are the Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers and Florida Panthers - all who have played fewer games than the Blue Jackets.
Now, the "fewer games" argument only matters when a team actually wins those games to be played. Meaning, the Hurricanes, Rangers, and Flyers could all lose their next few and the Blue Jackets could be back on even playing ground. Is it likely? No, but we go with what we have for now. The Blue Jackets are in a playoff spot.
Unfortunately - the season does not end today, though. In fact, there is an absolute gauntlet of remaining opponents for the Blue Jackets to take on to finish out their season. See for yourself, here.
It's not just a hard remaining schedule amongst playoff-contenting teams, it's a hard remaining schedule amongst any team in the entire league. The Blue Jackets, who have needed some luck more than most as of late, are stuck with the second-to-worst strength of schedule to close out the regular season, according to an article by NHL.com.
Out of all 31 teams in the league, the Blue Jackets are ranked 30th with the hardest remaining schedule. This is calculated by the combined points percentage of the opposing teams that one would face, and for the Blue Jackets, this is a points percentage of .606.
The Blue Jackets are also tied for the least amount of home games remaining in their schedule, with only five of 15 games being at Nationwide Arena. For a team that is 20-12-4 at home and 12-9-10 on the road, this is not the best news (unlike last year, where the Blue Jackets literally had a better record in away games).
To top it all off - which you may have been able to guess, the Blue Jackets play 14 teams who are active in the playoff hunt in their last 15 games. Their one "cupcake" game is against the New Jersey Devils, who...they recently lost to.
Bottom line? If the Blue Jackets want the postseason, they really have to earn it. They can't back their way in. A 9-4-2 finish seems like it can be the bare minimum entry at this point.
Do they have what it takes? Buckle up and get your popcorn ready, we might be on the edge of our couches still come April. 3 in their final regular-season game.
Did we mention that one is against the Hurricanes?
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