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The Countdown Continues: CBJ Final Four

I was in the house last night at Nationwide Arena for the Blue Jackets 4-0 triumph over the New York Islanders. Columbus started out fast, played an aggressive and gritty game. The first period was everything you could ask, for aside from a David Savard slashing penalty late in the period. The Jackets took a two goal lead into a second period that appeared slightly less inspired, but they bounced back in the final half of the second period by adding two more goals. They kept their foot on the gas throughout a penalty filled third period as the refs tried to keep some modicum of control. When the final horn sounded, Sergei Bobrovsky earned his fifth shutout of the season and a good crowd at the Arena went home happy.

Sunday night’s game was a nice bounce back after what Coach Todd Richards called a “gut-punch” on Friday, giving up a goal with less than 4 seconds remaining to the visiting Chicago Blackhawks. That goal prevented the game from going to overtime and cost the Blue Jackets one point in the standings. It was 59 minutes of good back and forth hockey that ended with such disappointment, right when you thought for sure we were going to overtime. On Saturday a little of the sting was taken out when numerous games broke the Blue Jackets way. The Philadelphia Flyers lost to the Boston Bruins, the Toronto Maple Leafs lost to the Winnipeg Jets, and the Detroit Red Wings lost to the Montreal Canadiens. The New Jersey Devils and Washington Capitals did both manage victories, but they remain 3 and 4 points back of Columbus, respectively. They are still in the race for the final wildcard spot with the CBJ, but are running out of time with only four games remaining.

Tonight is a light slate of NHL games, as the only game with playoff implications is the Devils hosting the Calgary Flames. The Blue Jackets get a night off before the home finale against the Phoenix Coyotes, who are currently battling the Dallas Stars for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. On Tuesday night, all other playoff contending teams aside from the Devils will also be in action, making for a busy night of scoreboard watching while cheering on the Jackets. I still believe as long as the CBJ handle their business on the ice everything will work itself out. The Jackets have four games left with the final three on the road in a five day stretch. It’s a tough row to hoe, but as Mark Letestu told Rusty Miller of the Associated Press after Sunday’s game, “it’s very Blue Jackets of us – doing things the hard way and probably earning our way into the playoffs.” As Jackets fans we wouldn’t expect anything less from the final week of the regular season. After last season’s ending, we’re kind of getting used to it.
Go Jackets!

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