It Starts with One
The Blue Jackets aren't looking at the playoff bar in terms of points; their focus is to win each game and stay in the moment.
Beginning tonight against Los Angeles, the majority of the Blue Jackets' remaining 16 games will be against teams either holding a current playoff spot or those competing for one.
The March and April portions of the National Hockey League schedule are traditionally division and conference-heavy, meaning Columbus and other clubs with playoff aspirations will need to get the best of division rivals and teams in desperate situations.
Some have already counted them out of the playoff chase and deemed their eight-point deficit nearly insurmountable, but head coach Scott Arniel has stuck to his segmented schedule game plan and has kept his players in the present.
And though the Blue Jackets are 0-3-3 in the past six games, Arniel said the emphasis is first on breaking the losing skid and starting a positive run.
"We cannot dwell on the past," Arniel said. "As much as people want to speculate and form the opinion that we're done, we still have 16 games to play.
"I've seen (a long winning streak) done in this league before. We have plenty of opportunities remaining to move forward."
The Kings are one of those opportunities. They currently sit in eighth place in the Western Conference with 79 points and have played one more game than the Blue Jackets.
Known for playing a tight-checking style and getting solid goaltending from Jonathan Quick, the Kings and coach Terry Murray find themselves in a position familiar to six others behind them: win as often as possible.
"(Los Angeles) has a lot of guys that are skilled and very good on the forecheck," Arniel said. "They use their size to get to the net and play a real good team game defensively.
"They have a good veteran group, a good mix of size and skill. We have to play our game and make sure we come ready to do so."
With another game in Raleigh against the Carolina Hurricanes tomorrow night, Columbus will have a chance to pick up two more valuable points against an Eastern Conference opponent. Counting the game against the Hurricanes, the Blue Jackets will have six games left against East teams.
The Blue Jackets, if things go right, could conceivably find themselves within four points of eighth place with a good weekend.
But as they say: first thing first.