Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Colorado Avalanche - 4/1/14
Colorado Avalanche (47-21-6) at Columbus Blue Jackets (38-30-6)
NHL Hockey: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 7:00 pm (Nationwide Arena)
The Line: Columbus Blue Jackets -126 / Colorado Avalanche +114 --- Over/Under: 5.5 See the Latest Odds
If the Columbus Blue Jackets are going to find their way into the post season they're going to have to put a winning streak together down the stretch. The Blue Jackets haven't been able to string multiple wins together for a while here and this type of win one-lose one back and forth will probably do them in over the last few weeks of the season. With their next three games coming against the Avalanche, Philadelphia Flyers, and Chicago Blackhawks, there really is no margin for error despite the fact they currently occupy the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. With nine games remaining on their schedule the Blue Jackets have a leg up on their competition, but it won't last long unless they come out strong and find a way to take down the Avalanche on Tuesday. Columbus rallied for a huge two points against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night and it was another group effort for this blue collar bunch. Artem Anisimov's 20th goal of the season evened the score at 2-2 in the third period less than a minute after the Blue Jackets had fallen behind. In the overtime session it was the young phenom Ryan Johansen with his 30th of the season coming on the power play to lift the Jackets to the victory. Johansen has been sensational this season and the Blue Jackets and their fans must love knowing they've got a lot of years ahead of watching this kid play. Matt Calvert's ninth goal of the season late in the first period got Columbus on the board. Curtis McElhinney made 23 saves as he continues to fill in for the sidelined Sergei Bobrovsky. These next three games are probably going to decide whether or not the Blue Jackets end up in the post season. With two of the three games on home ice and desperation on their side we'll see if the Jackets have what it takes.
The Colorado Avalanche have gotten back on track after their three game losing streak by finding a way to win their next three. Colorado gave up 11 goals in those first two losses and really tried to focus on the defensive side of things in their match up with the Boston Bruins. The end result was a 2-0 loss that showed a team who got the message but couldn't find a way to generate offense while staying defensively responsible. Since that point they've played in three one goal games that saw them defeat the Nashville Predators 5-4 before a 3-2 home win over the Vancouver Canucks. Saturday they returned to the Pepsi Center to take on the San Jose Sharks and skated away with another two points against a potential playoff foe. Paul Stastny's 21st goal of the season got the Avalanche on the board in the opening period and after the Sharks had tied things up it was Cody McLeod who regained the lead for Colordo. John Mitchell's 10th goal of the season gave Colorado a 3-1 lead that they would never relinquinsh on their way to a 3-2 win. Semyon Varlamov was the star of the night in this one however. Varlamov made 47 saves, including 18 in the first period and 20 in the third to lift the Avalanche to the victory. With the way this team can put the puck in the net they've got a chance to take anyone down in the playoffs if Varlamov can throw in performances like this. Colorado is likely headed for a first round match up with the Chicago Blackhawks which should be one of the highlights of the first round.
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This is a tough game to call because the Avalanche are the better team and play much stiffer competition on a regular basis. For whatever reason it feels like this is the year the Blue Jackets finally get that playoff monkey off their back by winning a game when they get in the dance. Columbus is the more desperate team and on home ice so it's understandable why they're favored, but sometimes talent is too much to overcome.