Daily Buzz: Columbus Blue Jackets Can't Let Up As Playoff Race Heats Up

Nate SantoianniCorrespondent IFebruary 24, 2009

The Columbus Blue Jackets are in uncharted waters. Never in the history of the franchise have our boys been in sixth place this late in the season.
Not that it is a comfortable position—the Jackets are only two points ahead of eighth place Minnesota who has two games in hand on our boys—but still, it’s a heck of a lot nicer view than staring at the backside of the ninth-place team.

That being said, the Blue Jackets are about to play their most important road trip in franchise history. Don’t take this phrase lightly—I’ve never made such a claim before (this isn’t Puck Rakers after all).

Tonight it’s third-place Calgary (76 pts), then Thursday it’s ninth-place Edmonton (63 pts, 23 games remaining) and finally, on Sunday they finish with fifth-place Vancouver (68 pts, 23 GR).

After all this, they’ll face the Kings at home on Mar. 3—the day before the trade deadline. How they fare during this trip will greatly affect how the rest of the season plays out.

In a perfect situation, the Jackets will nab four regulation wins that will vault them to 74 points (and probably fifth place). Call me crazy, but sitting at fifth place at the trade deadline screams huge success—Especially for our franchise.

The Jackets need to (as stupid as this sounds) play their game over the course of the next week. They are going to be facing three very competitive teams and a talented Kings club.

If they play simple, check hard, and play a north-south game for 240 minutes, then they’re all set.

Ugh uh huh...anybody else queasy?


Other Tidbits

• Not that I feel sorry for them, but who’d have picked the Ave’s to be in last place in the conference? True, they’ve been riddled with injuries to Sakic, Stastny, J-M Liles, and they didn’t exactly back the right horse with Andrew Raycroft did they?

• It seems that the offseason trade with the Rangers may be leveling out. After a shotgun start, Nik Zherdev is back to his old self. Flashes in the pan, but still lacking consistency.

He’s on pace now to finish the season with 59 points (two pts under last season). Zherdev’s “replacement”, on the other hand, is set to finish with 60 points and is also the leading factor contributing to Nash’s potential 80 point season (previous high was 69 pts).

• Ovie seems to have shifted his feud from one Penguin (Geno) to another (Sid). In previous seasons, Sid and Ovie have spoken with respect about one another. Not so much any more—and it couldn’t be better for the fans!

The two "best" players in the league now enemies. That’s the stuff of dreams for a league desperate for new fans and headlines. Me? I’m taking Ovie’s side—I think Cindy is a punk that runs his mouth.

Still, I wish nothing but good fortune for the guy the NHL has decided to back as the face of the league.

• “And with the first pick of the 2009 NHL draft, the New York Islanders select: John Tavares!” At least he’ll be going to a good hockey market—would kind of suck for him to get swept into Atlanta or Nashville or something. Not that there aren’t diehard, well-educated fans in those market.

I mean, I wouldn’t exactly call Columbus a hockey Mecca.