Columbus Blue Jackets Potential Playoff Scenarios

Jan 7, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Cam Atkinson (13) scores a goal against New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) during the first period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 7, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Cam Atkinson (13) scores a goal against New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) during the first period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports /

For the Columbus Blue Jackets, and every other team in the NHL, playoffs are less than 25 games away. “Playoffs?! We talkin’ bout-” Yes. We’re talking about the playoffs.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have only made the playoffs twice in their 15 season history and have yet to win a series. I think that will change this year.

If the Playoffs Started Today

As it stands right now The Columbus Blue Jackets are one point behind the New York Rangers and hold the first wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. This would place the Jackets in the playoffs with the Atlantic Division leader, the Montréal Canadiens.

Columbus is 2-0 against the Canadiens this year including the 10-0 shellacking against the Habs in November. In that game, Columbus set a franchise record for both goals in a game and margin of victory. 16 of the 18 skaters dressed recorded a point.

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Montréal has fallen off after taking the lead in the Atlantic as they are a mere 2-7-1 in their last ten. I just don’t think Montreal has the stuff to hang with Columbus in a seven game series this year. The Jackets have too many scoring threats. Couple that with consistent goaltending and I think you have the recipe for a first round “upset”. I put upset in quotes because as it stands Columbus has a seven-point advantage over Montréal.

The two are set to face off one more time this season on the last day of February. The contest will take place at the Bell Centre, north of the border.

The Most Likely Scenarios

Should the Columbus Blue Jackets move up in the standings they would leave the wildcard spot behind for either the New York Rangers or the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Jackets would then compete with a fellow Metro Division opponent.

The Jackets have faced off four times with the Rangers this year. They split those meetings winning two and losing two. This is a matchup that scares me a bit- New York is a gritty team and has a solid win record in the playoffs. They’re currently 8-1-1 in their last ten and are playing some of their best hockey right now.

The Rangers boast a solid core upfront including leading scorer Michael Grabner and former Blue Jacket Rick Nash. The two have combined for 53 of the teams 200 goals. And of course- you can never count out the King, Henrik Lundqvist.


The other possibility in this scenario is a first round series with the divisional rival from Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh Penguins. This is what the NHL needs. Watching these two teams face off in the first round might be the most exciting match up in this year’s playoffs. The two have met three times this season. The Jackets bested the Pens 7-1 in the first meeting, fell short in overtime in the second and won in overtime in the final meeting off the beautiful toe drag and shot by Brandon Dubinsky.

These teams don’t like each other- it’s not a secret. This would create some real old-time hockey. The Penguins are one of the most lethal teams in the league boasting arguably the best player in the game in Sidney Crosby. He is complimented upfront by other elite players such as Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel. That, supported from behind with Kris Letang and Marc Andre-Fleury makes for a strong team that will be tough to compete with.

Our twitter conducted a survey earlier this week polling who you most wanted to see the Blue Jackets play in the first round. 59% of you voted for the Penguins, 41% of you voted for the Canadiens. The Rangers and Capitals each received zero votes.

The “Not Gonna Happen” Scenario

If the Columbus Blue Jackets drop an eleven-point lead and fall to the second wildcard position they will have to face off with the league leading Washington Capitals. This, would not be good.

The Caps have the most points in the NHL for a reason. The Caps have the best goal differential in the NHL for a reason. They are the best team in the NHL. I don’t mean to say the Jackets can’t beat them- They can, and they already have twice this season. However, I think gaining momentum in the earlier rounds of the playoffs will play a huge role in the Jackets playoff success.

Washington avenged their first two losses to Columbus this season by handing the Jackets a 5-0 loss, ending their historic 16 game win streak. Washington has a ton of goal scorers beyond superstar Alex Ovechkin and have seen solid goaltending from both Braden Holtby and Phillipp Grubauer.

It’s probably the most cliche thing you can hear as a Columbus Blue Jackets fan, but I think this is their year. It really just feels right. They have a perfect combination of veteran leadership and young talent alike. They have solid goaltending and a hungry coach. Their fan base has grown immensely and proven themselves one of the most energetic in the country. This team has already proven they can win 16 games in a row so who knows- Maybe they won’t lose in the playoffs. If they get off to a hot start in the first round against the rival Penguins or a Division leading Canadiens, their momentum could easily carry them to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.