Tonight’s Black Hawks vs Blue Jackets game promises to be a battle as the Columbus Blue Jackets fight to maintain a spot in the playoffs by either fending off other wildcard contenders or gaining ground on third place Philly. Chicago has already sewn up a playoff spot, but hopes to gain ground on second place Colorado Avalanche in the Central Division.
Chicago will finish the regular season without major contributors Jonathan Toews (28 G, 40 A, +68) and Patrick Kane(29 G, 40 A, +7). According to a USA Today report, Chicago forward Bryan Bickell had this to say about playing without the tow stars:
“It is nice we can do it without them, but they’re a big part of our team for how many years? We’re just hoping that when they come back, they’re healthy, and give us a spark. We just need to do what we did tonight through the rest of the games.”
That didn’t stop the Blackhawks from earning a shootout win against the Minnesota Wild 3-2 in a wild one last night. The ‘Hawks shootout win snapped a three game skid coming into tonight’s Blue Jackets vs Blackhawks matchup.
The Columbus Blue Jackets’ position isn’t nearly as secure. If the playoffs started today, they would slide in as the Eastern Conference’s second wildcard. But, the playoffs aren’t starting today. Columbus has six more games – including tonight’s Black Hawks vs Blue Jackets matchup – and they need to make them count. They trail the Detroit Red Wings by a point for the top wildcard spot. If they can pick up some W’s, they could feasibly displace the Philadelphia Flyers for 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division (they currently trail by 2 points). They can also make the playoffs by keeping ahead of the wildcard contenders that are chasing them – the Toronto Maple Leafs (1 point behind, 4 games remaining), the Washington Capitals (4 points behind, 6 games remaining and the New Jersey Devils (5 points behind, 6 games remaining).
The Blue Jackets are coming off a 2-0 road victory against the Philadelphia Flyers and have been enjoying strong net minding by former-Flyer Sergei Bobrovsky (27-19-5, 2.47 GAA,.919 SV%, 4 SO). According to an AP report, Columbus center iceman Barndon Dubinsky had this to say about the Blue Jackets’ playoff hopes following the win in Philly and headed into tonight’s Blue Jackets vs Blackhawks game:
‘We’re in a good position. It’s not like where we were last year when we had to continue to watch and hope and chase teams. We’re right where we want to be.”
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