The Wild did the Jackets a favor Thursday night when they beat the New York Rangers, allowing the Jackets to tie the Rangers in the Metropolitan Division standings. However, the Rangers captured two points last night against the Winnipeg Jets. Their win last night makes these next two points very important ones for Columbus as they travel to Minnesota tonight.
The Jackets are now two points behind the Rangers in the Metropolitan Division and currently hold the third and final Metro playoff spot. The Wild Card spots in the East are held by Montreal (77 points) and Philadelphia (73 points). The Flyers are beating the Penguins by the score of 4-0 right now (as of the end of the second period). If they pull off a win, they will overtake the Jackets (74 points) for the third Metro spot, and the Jackets will be back to clinging onto a Wild Card spot. They need to win in Minnesota tonight in order to stay in the Metro race and tie the Rangers once more.
As for the Wild, they currently hold the first Western Conference Wild Card spot with 79 points, and trail the Chicago Blackhawks, who hold the third Central Division spot, by 11 points. The Western Conference is not as tight as the East, and definitely not as tight as the Metropolitan Division race. The Wild are ahead of the second Wild Card holder, Dallas, by four points, and the next closest challenger is Phoenix, who trail Minnesota by six points. The Wild are in a defensive position for sure, but the two points up for grabs certainly mean more to Columbus right now than they do to the Wild.
On the ice tonight the Jackets can expect to see the return of Artem Anisimov, who missed the previous game due to the birth of his first child on Thursday. Also, it remains to be seen if Fedor Tyutin will join the club for his post-Olympic debut tonight. He suffered an ankle injury while representing Russia at the Olympics in Sochi, and hasn’t played since. He took part in the morning skate today, but will likely be a game-time decision tonight. His return would be a significant help for the Jackets’ blue line, who have been missing both Tyutin and Ryan Murray from injury.
For the Jackets, and perhaps more so Jackets fans, this is a game of redemption. The Jackets were pushed out of the NHL Playoffs last season by the Wild. The two teams tied, and the Wild got in on the rule that whichever team has more wins excluding wins in shootout (reflected in the ROW column in the standings) gets in. It was a huge disappointment for the team and its fans, and is something they are looking to fix both this season and tonight. A win in Minnesota would significantly help the Jackets in their playoff run this season, and it would be really nice to beat the team who pushed us out last year. With that said, go Jackets!
Tags: Columbus Blue Jackets