Saturday, March 29, 2014

CBJ Viewers Guide

One of the best things that anyone can be in life is prepared.  You know what to expect.  You know the full story. This version of Daily Therapy will prepare you for the upcoming stretch run.  We are going to take a look at the teams involved in either the Metro Race, or the Wild Card.  We will also view it in the eyes of what is best for the Columbus Blue Jackets (seriously, is there any other way to do this?)

Let's go team by team and see what is coming for them, and what we can expect:

New York Rangers
Current Record 41-30-4 (86 Points)
7 Games Left
3 Home Games (Ottawa, Carolina, Buffalo)
4 Road Games (Edmonton, Vancouver, Colorado, Montreal)

Unless King Henrik all of a sudden falls off the face of the Earth, there's a really good chance they make the playoffs.  Their remaining home games are against teams that most likely miss the playoffs. They are also 6 points up on the teams fighting for the Wild Card.  Their main concern here will be getting home ice in the First Round.  Yet, they have been a better road team this year (figure that one out). The Flyers, as of now, have the inside track to the Metro's 2nd place team (down 1 point, but have 2 games in hand). If things hold, Rangers/Flyers would be a First Round bloodbath.

Philadelphia Flyers
Current Record 39-27-7 (85 Points)
9 Games Left
4 Homes Games (Boston, Columbus, Buffalo, Carolina)
5 Road Games (St Louis, Boston, Florida, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh)

What a roller coaster season this has been.  They came out of the gates about as bad as anyone can.  Their coach gets fired.  Craig Berube comes in, and over the course of the season, they have become one of the hottest teams in the league.  Claude Giroux has turned his game around.  Steve Mason has held his own, even earning a new contract.  Guys like Matt Read, Sean Courturier, and Wayne Simmonds have given them a big boost.  They are 5 points up on the Wild Card pack.  But let's take a look at this schedule.  It's hard. But an even closer look shows that the front end of it is harder.  They have Bruins twice, and the Blues (each still trying to clinch their conferences number one seeds). So if the Jackets want to make a move on the Flyers, it needs to be now! Flyers play the Pens 2nd to last game of the year, when Pens probably already have the number two seed locked up. Tampa might also have their place locked up.  The big game will be that Jackets/Flyers game on April 3rd.  Given the schedules, that game could be for 3rd in the Metro.  Jacket need to beat Canes and Avs.  Flyers need to lose to Bruins and Blues.  If that happens, which it could, Jackets win puts them up to 3rd.  Now or never my friends.

Columbus Blue Jackets
Current Record 37-30-6 (80 points)
9 Games Left
4 Home Games (Colorado, Chicago, NY Islanders, Phoenix)
5 Road Games (Carolina, Philadelphia, Dallas, Tampa Bay, Florida)

After a slow start to the season which has included overcoming injuries (Horton, Bob among others), the Jackets find themselves in a spot in which they can make their 2nd ever trip to the NHL playoffs.  It's not going to be easy.  There will be lots of anxious moments.  The opportunity is there though.  Honestly, it comes down to which Blue Jackets team shows up.  They are good enough to win the last 9 games.  They are also inconsistent enough to lose them all.  The answer as to how the season ends is probably somewhere in the middle.  Realistically, Jackets probably need 12 points to feel safe about the playoffs.  That would be 6-3-0 finish. Anything less than 12 points, and it's gonna be sweating time.  Jackets played great for about 50 minutes on Friday against the Pens.  Then it all evaporated in 47 seconds.  That is the biggest x-factor in these final 9 games.  The level of consistency will be the reason the Jackets make or miss the playoffs.  Jackets have their last 2 games in Florida.  Tampa may have clinched all they could, and may rest players.  Florida is out.  So, that means the Jackets may have to clinch on the road, as their final 3 games are on the road.  Remember Jackets get 1-0 lead on Dallas on April 9th.  Bottom line, if the Jackets can take care of their business, they control their own destiny.  They own the ROW tiebreaker by wide margin on the other Wild Card hopefuls.  Really there is not much else to say except "Go out and get it.  It's for the taking." You do your thing, you are in the playoffs.  There is some margin for error, thanks to the Wings, Leafs, and Caps blowing their chances.  So if Jackets lose a couple games, keep the big picture in mind. As you will see below, the teams the Jackets are fighting don't have it easy either.  At this point, get in the playoffs, and then see what happens.

Detroit Red Wings
Current Record 33-26-14 (80 points)
9 Games Left
4 Homes Games (Tampa Bay, Boston, Buffalo, Carolina)
5 Road Games (Toronto, Montreal, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, St Louis)

Washington Capitals
Current Record 34-28-12 (80 Points)
8 Games Left
3 Home Games (Dallas, Chicago, Tampa Bay)
5 Road Games (Nashville, New Jersey, NY Islanders, St Louis, Carolina)

Toronto Maple Leafs
Current Record 36-31-8 (80 Points)
7 Games Left
4 Home Games (Detroit, Calgary, Boston, Winnipeg)
3 Road Games (Tampa Bay, Florida, Ottawa)

New Jersey Devils
Current Record 31-28-14 (76 Points)
9 Games Left
5 Home Games (Florida, Washington, Calgary, NY Islanders, Boston)
4 Road Games (NY Islanders, Buffalo, Carolina, Ottawa)

Ottawa Senators
Current Record 30-29-14 (74 Points)
9 Games Left
6 Home Games (Calgary, Carolina, NY Islanders, Montreal, New Jersey, Toronto)
3 Road Games (NY Rangers, NY Islanders, Pittsburgh)

Carolina Hurricanes
Current Record 32-32-9 (73 Points)
9 Games Left
4 Home Games (Columbus, Dallas, New Jersey, Washington)
5 Road Games (Ottawa, Pittsburgh, NY Rangers, Detroit, Philadelphia)

I'm just going to make a couple of points on the 5 teams above (Washington, Toronto, New Jersey, Ottawa, Carolina). Not saying that they will make playoffs, but keep an eye on New Jersey and Ottawa.  They each have a string of home games coming up that are very winnable.  Their biggest challenge is fact that 4 teams have 80 points at this time.  But if any of them stumble, New Jersey and Ottawa could make one final charge. New Jersey could very easily go 8-1 last 9 games, which would put them at 94 points.  That probably makes it in this Eastern Conference.  Carolina is listed here because they play a bunch of teams fighting for position.  They could be an interesting spoiler.  Of the 4 teams with 80 points, there is only one more game amongst them that is heads up, that is tonight's Wings/Leafs game.  We want Toronto winning this game due to games in hand.  Washington already lost today (thank you Boston).  If the Jackets can knock off Carolina tonight, it will dramatically increase Jackets chances of making the playoffs.

There you go.  You now see what is left for the Eastern playoff contenders.  Follow us @cbjtherapy from now til the end for all the latest updates on the playoffs.  Let this finally be the year we break through, and play in the playoffs.

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