Sunday, February 15, 2009

Making the Case

The Jackets finished the week with two impressive wins against teams who are in the playoff race: a home 3-2 win against the defending Cup champion Red Wings and an efficient 5-1 road win against Carolina. The team now has won four games in a row and has jumped into the thick of the race for the Western Conference playoff seeding, up to #6. Though Dallas sits at #5 with the same umber of points (61), the four slot belongs to Chicago with 70 points. Anaheim at 7 also has 61 points. And it continues. It is clear that barring any strange occurrences the playoffs will not be set until the season finale. The old agade of "Every game counts" is as appropriate as ever. Eyes off the standings and just play hard hockey.

The team is winning through hard work, outstanding goaltending and dedication to the Hitchcockian plan of defense, defense, defense. A good D and a hot goalie can carry a team that lacks offense like the Blue Jackets. If the team can more efficiently convert its power play chances, it will become a tough team to play. Columbus has one goal all season with a 5-on-3 advantage and is last in the league in power play goal percentage. Detroit has more than double the power play goals scored by the Jackets (65-29). Improvement in this area is a must.

The Columbus faithful have been given a rare treat: a legitimaate run at the playoffs. In the game against Dettroit the Nationwide crowd was the largest ever announced at the arean at 18,802. The team has a long way to go to seal a spot in the post-season, but they have provided a real opportunity for excitement for their more-than-patient fans who crave a home playoff game.

It's been fun, and it has been a while since that feeling was in the arena every night.

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