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Playoff bubble watch — Blue Jackets edition

Apr 3, 2014, 12:14 PM EDT

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 25: Columbus Blue Jackets fan Dustin Dulinksi waves an Ohio flag prior to the start of the game against the Detroit Red Wings on March 25, 2014 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Getty Images

Three games in four nights — starting tonight in Philadelphia — will help decide whether the Blue Jackets return to the playoffs for just the second time in franchise history.

According to Sports Club Stats, Columbus has a 79.9 percent chance of qualifying for the postseason. A record in the neighborhood of 3-3-1 in the team’s final seven games should get the job done.

After tonight’s game, the Jackets return home to face the Blackhawks (who are minus Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane for the rest of the regular season) on Friday, and then the Islanders Sunday.

If they can get four points out of those three games, they’ll be sitting nicely with a home game against Phoenix on Tuesday, followed by a three-game road trip (to Dallas, Tampa Bay, and Florida) to close out the schedule.

If they somehow blow it, they’ll have wasted a golden opportunity to give their long-suffering fans some playoff excitement.

Despite the team’s struggles since entering the NHL in 2000, there remains a feeling that Columbus could be an outstanding hockey market, if only the Jackets were more successful on the ice. It’s not a city with much in the way of pro-sports competition, and the biggest show in town — Ohio State football — only runs until January (at the latest).

“We’ve still got work to do with some folks, and we’ve not shied away from that,” president of hockey operations John Davidson told the Columbus Dispatch recently. “People have been disappointed by their hockey team here through the years, and so we have a lot to prove to those people.”

  1. reasonableperson1 - Apr 3, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    The Jackets need to make the playoffs and at least win a game or two. Columbus could be a very solid hockey market, fans just need to see more than one playoff appearance (swept at that) since 2000. They pretty much control their own destiny, time to get it done.

  2. bcsteele - Apr 3, 2014 at 12:33 PM

    Really can’t help but pull for them and honestly I can at least see some progress now in structuring a winning team. They still got a ways to go in getting the pieces together and bringing their young guys along but I like the way they play. Best of luck Jackets!

  3. govtminion - Apr 3, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    I’ve always marveled that in a league where more than 50% of teams get into the playoffs at the end of the season, Columbus has managed one appearance in over a decade of existence. It almost seems like mathematically that shouldn’t be possible.

    Here’s hoping they get in this year- and that they win a couple of games. It looks like they’re on track to do it, for sure… Those fans deserve to finally get something to cheer about in April.

    …As a Bruins fan, of course, I’m hoping not to get them at all, because I don’t want to cheer against them at this point, but I wouldn’t mind seeing them steal a game or two even then. Loving what the Jackets are starting to build, at long last- that’s a fun team to watch.

  4. dutchman1350 - Apr 3, 2014 at 1:33 PM

    The CBJ always tried to win, which hurt them in the long run. They should have tanked (like Pitt and Chicago) and get some top picks. Regardless, JD and Todd Richards have turned the locker room attitude around, which was something Rick Nash couldn’t do (although he was put in a bad situation being named Captain).

  5. getadealdonealready - Apr 3, 2014 at 4:14 PM

    Am I the only one confused on how these percentages work? I don’t understand how you could trail Dallas in points, and they have a game in hand, but still an 80% chance to make the post-season.

    • mrpinkca - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:41 PM

      The Blue Jackets were realigned to the eastern conference. They hold the 2nd wild card and are 3 points up on the 9th place Maple Leafs with a game in hand.

      The 79.9 comes from simulating all possible outcomes of the remaining relevant games. At this point they’re are roughly 90 games remaining each with 6 possible outcomes (regulation, OT, or shootout win for either team). This means there are probably around 100,000 different possible outcomes (it’s actually probably a lot more than that, but whatever). The 79.9% means that in 79,900 of the 100,000 possible outcomes, Columbus makes the playoffs.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kessel (1765)
  2. P. Kane (1388)
  3. M. Richards (1270)
  4. P. Datsyuk (1256)
  5. N. Backstrom (1113)