Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Efforts Unfulfilled...

The Columbus Blue Jackets went into a Tuesday night game with a chance to take down a slumping Boston Bruins team and keep that Playoff light on at the end of the tunnel.

Man, that is a long freakin' tunnel....

After earning only their first win after the Trade Deadline against Carolina on Saturday night, the Jackets unfortunately took a huge step back in the shootout loss against the Bruins.

Now the good guys remain in that “no margin for error” territory -- actually, that situation isn't any different -- teetering on the brink between Playoff hopes and the remainder of the season amounting to just auditions for next year.

The game pucks go to Grant Clitsome, whose goal from just inside the blue line was his fourth point in five games; and Scottie Upshall, who scored an awesome goal and demonstrated why the Jackets need to try and lock him up before July.

And Matt Calvert! How many times did his speed cause Boston to wind up in the box, anyway? Two? Three? I know it's a recurring topic, but the kid's crazy good.

Unfortunately, the Jackets couldn't get any goals off their six powerplay opportunities (given, one was really short). And honestly, Tuukka Rask was looking like he did in last year's Playoffs... before the infamous collapse against the Flyers, anyway.

There are 13 games left, and the fact that the Jackets are getting a point in some of their recent losses can only prolong the Playoff Push for so long. It's not looking good. Although they are not mathematically eliminated, you always have the option of watching the Jackets' progress against "the line" -- that estimate we use to signify how many points in the standings the eighth-place team in the West will have. It means we stalk the standings a little less, and know when it's over without waiting for the "e" (eliminated) to pop up next to our team in the newspaper.

By the way, that "e" is not next to Edmonton yet, but technically, they are out. Even a zombie apocalypse in the bottom half of the West standings would get them no higher than 10th. (Sorry... I've been watching The Walking Dead on DVD the last couple days.)

Last year, that line was 95, put up by the Colorado Avalanche... and by the way, the other seven teams had 100 points or more.

In the previous two years, the line was 91.

So, if we assume 95, the Jackets need 21 points in the remaining 13 games. However, the West is tighter than usual, so is 95 going to be enough? That's a good question.

Some estimates have said 97 or 98... both are technically doable. I'm sure there's some
mathematical guru somewhere who can tell us what the line definitively is... but who has the time?

That whole "magic number" thing I mentioned a few days back? Yeah, throw that out the window. There's a reason why that works in baseball, and not in hockey.

I suppose it's also the reason hockey is so much more watchable.

The ride's not over, although it's going to take a hell of a game against Detroit to keep it all going. And from here on out, it's safe to say the Jackets need a lot of help. To figure out who can help the most, stalk the daily "Games That Matter" feature by Dark Blue Jacket. I don't envy the task... I did it a couple years back in the CBJ's Playoff Push a couple years back. It's fun, but man, that's a lot of numbers sometimes.

Wrandom Wristers
  • Man, Rick Nash needs to get back on the scoreboard. He has not had a goal since the game-winner against Nashville on Feb. 22.
  • For once, I'm glad the refs stepped in between two guys before a fight broke out. Derek Dorsett vs. Zdeno Chara? Did not want to see that.
  • This may just be armchair coaching, but there seemed to be too much stickwork by Nasher and Fedor Tyutin in the shootout. Too fancy, it wasn't fooling Rask, and they just simply ran out of room.
  • However... hell of an "ankle save" by Mase on Patrice Bergeron.
  • How this escaped me up until now since I watched Boston so much in the Playoffs last year, but I just saw Tuukka Rask's headshot for the very first time. Anyone else think he somewhat resembles a young Buster Poindexter?
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