Coyotes vs Blue Jackets. Blue Jackets vs Coyotes. One team currently holds their conference’s final wildcard spot and is fighting off challengers while the other is on the hunt, trying to claw their way in to the playoffs. Both teams come into the game with plenty to gain and plenty to lose.
If the playoffs started today, the Columbus Blue Jackets would be in, three points ahead of their nearest challengers – the New Jersey Devils and Toronto Maple Leafs – while the Phoenix Coyotes would narrowly miss, trailing the Dallas Starts by one point for the second wildcard in the Western Conference. But, the playoffs don’t start today. Both teams come into tonight’s Blue Jackets vs Coyotes matchup with four games remaining and needing a win – Columbus to solidify their position and Phoenix to bypass the Stars.
The Blue Jackets finish the season with a grueling schedule – four games in five nights. In addition to tonight’s Coyotes vs Blue Jackets game, they play the Dallas Stars (the team the Coyotes are desperately chasing) and the playoff-bound Tampa Bay Lightening before finishing the season on the road against the hapless Florida Panthers. The Blue Jackets’ cramped schedule is due to a rare rescheduled game against Dallas. The game was postponed when the Dallas Stars’ Rich Peverly collapsed on the bench with a cardiac event, according to a report on NHL.com.
According to a Yahoo! Sports report, neither coach is taking anything for granted. Despite odds-makers’ favoring his team’s chances of the Blue Jackets making their second consecutive postseason, Coach Richards put it this way:
“I don’t listen to what the mathematicians are saying. It’s always about the next game. We’ve got to find wins. We’ve got to get points. We need to focus on what we can control, and that’s our next game.”
Coyotes’ Coach Dave Tippett had this to say:
“Games are a lot tighter now. The start of the season, you see everybody is playing a little looser. Now you see every game is so important, goals are hard to come by.”
Tippett’s Coyotes are in the midst of an ill-times skid, dropping four in a row, including one goal losses to the Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets – both teams that have been eliminated from the possibility of playoff contention. They will be looking to reverse that trend in tonight’s Blue Jackets vs Coyotes game.
You can watch the Coyotes vs Blue Jackets game streaming online live here.