Tonight, the Columbus Blue Jackets return to Dallas to take on the Stars, finishing a game from earlier this season which was postponed to tonight. Many fans, myself included, said early on that the season might end up coming down to this very game. Well guys, we were right! The Jackets have the chance to clinch their second-ever playoff spot with a win tonight in Dallas. And, not to mention, they will start the 60-minute game ahead by one goal. That’s always nice.
As mentioned, the Jackets will start the game ahead by one. The goal is carried over from the previous game which was cut short. The goal will officially be credited to Nathan Horton, who scored the goal previously. However, Horton will not be in the Jackets’ lineup tonight, as he is out with injury. It will likely be the first time in the NHL when a player who didn’t even dress for the game is credited with a goal. Congratulations Horton!
Hopefully the go-ahead goal will make a difference in the game, because it will be a big one. Not only can the Jackets clinch tonight, they once again have the chance to tie the Philadelphia Flyers for the third Metropolitan Division spot. The Jackets were two points behind Philly both on Sunday and Tuesday nights, and won both. However, the Flyers also won on both those nights, keeping the Jackets two points back.
Tonight, however, the Flyers don’t play. That makes this game a golden opportunity for the Jackets to catch the Flyers. Of course, right now Columbus and Philly have the same number of games played, which means after tonight the Flyers will have one game in hand on Columbus. But, as the saying goes, games in hand only matter if you win them. Hopefully Philly doesn’t. I personally would love to see the Jackets and the Rangers play in the Playoffs, so overtaking the Flyers would be great! However, tonight might be the Jackets’ last chance to put themselves in a place where overcoming Philly is possible.
On the flip side, the Stars are fighting for a playoff spot as well. They currently hold the final Western Conference Wild Card spot, and are chased from behind by Phoenix. The Stars have 89 points, and the Phoenix Coyotes are hot on their heels with 87. The two points up for grabs in this game could be critical for both teams.
Did you read that number 89 and think it sounded familiar? It should. The Jackets also have 89 points right now. Seems like an even match-up. Let’s look at the records. Columbus: 41-31-7, Dallas: 39-29-11. Same number of games played, same number of points. However, Columbus has more wins. But, out of their 39 wins, Dallas has only had four shootouts. Columbus has had five. Take that as you will.
A closer look at the records reveals that on the road Columbus is 19-16-3, while at home Dallas is 22-10-7. Out of their total losses, only about a third were on home ice. The Jackets are close to half and half with wins, having 19 on the road and 22 at home. All that to say, Dallas is pretty good at defending home ice, but the Jackets aren’t a bad road team either.
A more interesting statistic: when going into a full game up by one point, the Jackets are an even 0-0-0. Safe to day they’ll set some kind of franchise record tonight! Anyway, hopefully the Jackets can find a way to tie up Philly tonight, and clinch a Playoff spot. We might all sleep better tonight if they do. Go Jackets!
Tags: Columbus Blue Jackets