The Columbus Blue Jackets may be closing out the year on the road, but Tuesday night’s roller coaster game against the Phoenix Coyotes all but guaranteed they won’t need a monumental finish to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. They now find themselves four points up on the Washington Capitals with the tiebreaker squarely in their back pocket, and five up on the Devils, also with the tiebreaker. That’s pretty much all she wrote.
The most exciting part for them is that a few wins in their final three games in which they’re at Dallas, at Tampa Bay, and at Florida, and they could give the Red Wings a run for the top wild card spot, which would mean NOT facing the Boston Bruins. That’s a pretty big prize right there.
The goal that put them in this comfy-cozy position was a Ryan Johansen breakaway snipe – his 32nd(!) of the year – in overtime past Thomas Greiss. He’s still 21, bee tee dubs.
So, what went wrong for the Coyotes? What went right for the Blue Jackets?
Boone Jenner pressures Zbynek Michalek, who has solid, solid possession of the puck on the back-end. Ekman-Larsson is being aggressive, jumping up to give Michalek a passing option by skating across the blue-line a zone ahead, while Antoine Vermette presents his stick on the boards.
Lauri Korpikoski completes the Coyotes change, and also presents for Michalek. In short, Michalek has options, man.
Then, he makes the bad, terrible decision to try to beat Jenner as the last man back. Even if he sees an easy way to do it, there’s no point in taking a risk in this situation. Just move it early and hard to one of your teammates that’s attacking the Blue Jackets. You’ve already got your partner going for the gusto, somebody’s gotta play Spock here and think logically.