|One goal in 3 games. 'Nuff said.|
The Jackets continue to stay in the hunt for the second place finish in the Metro, winning 2 out of 3 again. The Jackets have 88 points with 18 games remaining. This is significant when you consider that the franchise record for points is 93, a record that seems certain to be eclipsed. It is also an important number as it is the sort of acknowledged minimum number of points necessary to make the playoffs. So the Jackets are well positioned, and in a battle with Pittsburgh for home ice advantage in the playoff clash that looks inevitable at this point. One of the two teams needs to collapse, or the Caps, and I don't see any of that happening.
I don't mind telling you that I have fully embraced the notion that the Jackets and the Pens will square off in the first round. You have to get through them if you want to do anything anyway, might as well get it over early. However, this just doesn't feel like the last time we played the Pens, or when we were facing off against Detroit. In those I was hoping we would win some. In this go around, I feel a great deal more positive. Its the playoffs, The teams will get an opportunity to fully explore each others strengths and weaknesses, and the best team will win. It could well be Pittsburgh. But the two teams are a lot closer in this go around then they were in 2013-14.
It's time to start ramping up for the playoffs. You want to be playing well in all facets of the game (power play, I'm talking to you), and the Jackets seem to be playing very solid hockey. They have played tight games against top teams in the NHL and are succeeding at a pace that would result in advancing in the playoffs. This is not the playoffs, to be sure, it is the grind of the season. But it's good prep work.
The Jackets return against New Jersey on Tuesday at home in Nationwide Arena, and face Buffalo on a home and home starting Friday night at Nationwide. The next 3 should be interesting.