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CBJ Countdown Update: Clinched!

The game last night between the Blue Jackets and Dallas Stars didn’t turn out to be the big story.  The game seemed to happen in a vacuum and never felt like it had the emotion or edge of your seat excitement the last two games at Nationwide Arena had.  Maybe it was the 1-0 lead before game start, which was every bit as weird as we were expecting.  Maybe Artem Anisimov scored too quickly, with a great goal off of a rebound early in the first to make it 2-0.  Maybe it was the Dallas Stars themselves, who didn’t look engaged and ready to skate when the puck dropped.  Ending the first period up 3-0 was great, but was an embarrassment of riches the gritty Blue Jackets aren’t accustomed to.  The last 40 minutes of the game were still nervous to watch, especially by the pressure Dallas put on late, but it had more to do with the Eastern Conference standings than the game itself.

When the final horn sounded the Columbus Blue Jackets clinched their second playoff appearance in franchise history.  The icing on the cake was the Detroit Red Wings losing in a shootout against the Pittsburgh Penguins, which put the Jackets in the driver’s seat for the first wildcard spot.  The game also brought the CBJ even with the Philadelphia Flyers at 91 points.  The Flyers do have a game in hand and currently hold the tiebreaker, but now the Jackets and their fans are looking up at playoff seeding instead of back at simply making it into the second season.   The New Jersey Devils and Washington Capitals were eliminated from contention, and the final 8 teams in the East are set.  The remainder of this week will determine the when & where of round one.  Currently Columbus is on course to play Pittsburgh in the opening round, but it’s still possible for almost anything to happen.  Columbus can move as high as 2nd in the Metropolitan Division and host a playoff series for the first time, or as low as the second wildcard and play the Boston Bruins in round one.  Being assured of being in the field makes the next four days of games of scoreboard watching much more enjoyable.

The Jackets came into the final 8 game stretch needing to take care of their own business and needing a little help from some other teams.  Through the first 6 of 8 the CBJ are 4-1-1, taking 9 of a possible 12 points.  The playoffs are now a certainty, and the City of Columbus is fired up.  At the game in Dallas last night a fan in the stands, decked out in full CBJ garb, even had a sign with the new fan slogan, “we are the 5th line”  That was a pleasant surprise, and I have to give a big thank you to that guy.  Two games left until the playoffs!  Go Jackets!

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