The Toronto Maple Leafs should be keeping an eye on the Columbus Blue Jackets these days for two reasons.
First, they need to scoreboard watch and essentially wait for the moment until Columbus officially eliminates them from the playoff race.
At this point, it would take a sudden collapse by the Blue Jackets in addition to the New Jersey Devils for the Leafs to leapfrog both teams and secure a playoff berth.
I don’t think that’ll happen.
However, in a more important sense, the Leafs should watch the Blue Jackets to see what it really requires to make the playoffs.
Columbus has shown tremendous determination and commitment in pushing for a playoff spot. They may lack the star power of the Leafs and they certainly don’t hold the same central presence in the league as the Leafs, but they’re better than Toronto in the area where it matters the greatest: the standings.
Watching Columbus, you see a team that wants to make the playoffs and one that takes nothing for granted. They’ve relied heavily on goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and he’s once again rewarded their show of confidence with terrific play.
(Why did the Philadelphia Flyers ever trade this guy? Impatience?)
Whereas Toronto cannot muster the strength or passion to beat the Winnipeg Jets of the hockey world, Columbus is coming off a recent stretch of games where they stole one point from the Colorado Avalanche, blanked the Flyers, lost a close one to the Chicago Blackhawks and pulverized the New York Islanders 4-0.
Those are the signs of a team that wants to compete for the Stanley Cup and one that deserves a shot in the playoffs. I cannot say the same for Toronto right now.
There was a point earlier in the season when we could have said this about the Leafs. Now we’re forced to watch as the Blue Jackets blow past them and secure the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.
For Columbus, of course, this is good news. It’ll only be their second ever trip to the playoffs, but they look posed to make several more playoff appearances in the coming years.
(The Blue Jackets, by the way, swept the season series between Toronto and Columbus. Point taken?)
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