The Jackets and the Carolina Hurricanes face off at Nationwide tonight in one of the twelve NHL games that will be played today. Tonight’s game is the fourth of five meetings between these two teams this season. The Jackets won the first two, but dropped the third to the Canes by the score of 3-2. This season, Columbus is 19-11-3 at home, while Carolina is 12-16-4 on the road. The Jackets will need to defend home ice tonight and capture two more points in the standings, because every game counts right now, especially against a division opponent like Carolina.
The Jackets have the chance to overtake the Philadelphia Flyers (77 points), who beat the Penguins twice this weekend to be ahead of Columbus by one point. However, the Flyers play Chicago tonight, and if they win they will stay in the second Metropolitan Division spot even if the Jackets pull off a win tonight.
The Jackets are followed closely behind by (and actually tied in points with) the New York Rangers. The Rangers currently hold the final Eastern Conference Wild Card spot, and they play the Ottawa Senators tonight. The Jackets need to pull off two points at home tonight in order to prevent being overtaken by the Rangers and booted out of the Metro Division top three.
The Jackets’ next game is against the Canadiens on Thursday, and I think it’s safe to say that will be a much tougher opponent for Columbus. That makes this game tonight that much more important. They have the chance to pick up two points against a Metro Division opponent who is lower in the standings than they are, before going on to face Montreal and then the Rangers on Friday. This game is a very important one, but then again we say that about pretty much every game this time of year. But that’s because it’s true.
In related CBJ news, Sergei Bobrovsky was named the NHL’s number one star for last week. He’s been back to playing in Vezina-winning form, and hopefully he will continue to do that tonight and throughout this week. Go Jackets!