Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Push for the Playoffs: Blue Jackets look to lock down postseason berth

Mike Milbury and Keith Jones make their picks for the Jack Adams award, given to the top head coach in the NHL.

Push for the Playoffs will run every morning through the end of the 2018-19 NHL season. We’ll highlight the current playoff picture in both conferences, take a look at what the first-round matchups might look like, see who’s leading the race for the best odds in the draft lottery and more.

This is it.

There’s only one playoff spot left and it looks like the Columbus Blue Jackets are going to bring it home. All they have to do is win tonight at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers. Even if they fail to do so, a win in Ottawa tomorrow night will also get the job done.

The Blue Jackets got a lot of help from their division rival, the Washington Capitals, last night, after the Caps took down the Montreal Canadiens, 2-1.

So the Habs and Jackets are tied for the final Wild Card spot in the East, but Montreal has just one game left and Columbus leads them in ROW by three victories. It would basically take an epic collapse for them not to get into the playoffs this year.

They’ll be looking for a bounce-back performance after dropping a 6-2 decision to the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night.

“This is playoff hockey,” captain Nick Foligno said after the loss to Boston, per “This is what wins it this time of the year. The team that does it better than the other is going to win. They didn’t do anything special defensewise. They just checked better, which led to offense. We’ve been doing it that way the past five games here, so I’m not going to dwell on this one.”

General manager Jarmo Kekalainen was clearly the most aggressive GM at the trade deadline. He added Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzlingel, Adam McQuaid and Keith Kinkaid to his roster, and although it didn’t seem to be working out for the team at first, they’ve a way to put it all together.

Whether or not those moves will help them win their first playoff round in franchise history is a different story. But for now, all they have to worry about is claiming that last playoff spot.

It’s probably a good idea for them to get the job done tonight, because a do-or-die game against the Ottawa Senators will bring a ton of pressure for a few reasons. Yes, the Sens are the worst team in the league, but that team will want to spoil the party for former teammates Duchene and Dzingel. Also, Anthony Duclair, who was 19 goals by the way, was called out by John Tortorella before he was shipped off to Ottawa. You think he wants to ruin the fun for Columbus? No doubt about it. There’s no reason to think the Blue Jackets can’t beat the Senators in a one-off, but why risk it? The Jackets need to take care of business tonight so that they can rest players in the second half of a back-to-back situation.

TODAY’S GAMES WITH PLAYOFF CONTENDERS Blue Jackets at Rangers, 7 p.m. ET Stars at Blackhawks, 8:30 p.m. ET

TODAY’S CLINCHING SCENARIOS The Blue Jackets will clinch a playoff spot... • If they defeat the New York Rangers in any fashion

The Stars will clinch the first wild card from the Western Conference and the Avalanche will clinch the second wild card from the Western Conference... • If Dallas earns at least one point against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Screen Shot 2019-04-05 at 9.06.25 AM

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via Hockey Reference) Lightning — Clinched Bruins — Clinched Capitals — Clinched Islanders — Clinched Maple Leafs — Clinched Penguins — Clinched Hurricanes — Clinched Blue Jackets — 88.1 percent Canadiens — 11.9 percent Flyers — Eliminated Panthers — Eliminated Sabres — Eliminated Rangers — Eliminated Devils — Eliminated Red Wings — Eliminated Senators — Eliminated

Screen Shot 2019-04-05 at 9.12.07 AM

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via Hockey Reference) Flames — Clinched Jets — Clinched Sharks — Clinched Predators — Clinched Blues — Clinched Golden Knights — Clinched Stars — Clinched Avalanche — Clinched Coyotes — Eliminated Wild — Eliminated Blackhawks — Eliminated Oilers — Eliminated Canucks — Eliminated Ducks — Eliminated Kings — Eliminated


JACK OR KAAPO? THE DRAFT LOTTERY PICTURE Senators — 18.5 percent* Kings — 13.5 percent Devils — 11.5 percent Sabres — 9.5 percent Red Wings — 8.5 percent Rangers — 7.5 percent Oilers — 6.5 percent Ducks– 6 percent Canucks — 5 percent Flyers — 3.5 percent Wild — 3 percent Blackhawks — 2.5 percent Panthers — 2 percent Coyotes — 1.5 percent Canadiens — 1 percent (*COL owns OTT’s 2019 first-round pick)

ART ROSS RACE Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning — 126 points Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers — 116 points Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks — 107 points Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers — 104 points Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins — 100 points

ROCKET RICHARD RACE Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals — 51 goals Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers — 49 goals John Tavares, Toronto Maple Leafs — 47 goals Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning — 44 goals Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks — 42 goals


Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.