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The Sports Daily > Buckeye State Hockey
Buckeye State Hockey Mailbag: Road to the Playoffs edition

Not many questions this week for the mailbag but that means we have some questions to focus in on and take a deeper dive into these questions posed by our readers.

Let’s get started.

It’s tough to map this out because of the games still happening but with what we know, the Jackets have a few scenarios at hand. The most likely scenario as of right now is going to be facing the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the playoffs. Neither are going to catch the Capitals and neither should drop past the Rangers, who they both have games in hand on.

If the Jackets do win their matchup against the Penguins, they would then go on to face the winner of the Capitals and the second Wild Card spot. As of right now it is held by the New York Islanders but it could really be occupied by anyone. The Leafs and the Florida teams are making a push. If they were to move past them, they would face the “Atlantic Division Champion” that could theoretically be the New York Rangers.

It may sound weird given how hard the Jackets have worked to get to the spot they are currently in right now but the first Wild Card spot may be better for the playoffs. Staying in the Metro Division of the bracket is going to be a buzz saw.

Now the question, “How do we win?” Well, that is going to have to be answered during another mailbag.

It’s a fair question to ask and is probably what the Jackets were trying to address as they acquired Kyle Quincey last week. Ryan Murray isn’t having a great season and Markus Nutivaara is young enough that the team probably can’t trust him fully just yet. Murray and Nutivaara have been a fine pairing but they should be better than what they are currently doing. They get favorable starts and don’t necessarily play with the worst players on the team either.

They have the potential to be one of the most offensively dynamic pairings on the team, you can see it in their game and you’ve seen it before with Murray’s play. It seems to be missing at the moment though. It could be the fact that young defensemen tend to play tentatively to avoid mistakes. It goes against a lot of the “safe is death” mantra, when you have it engrained in you to not make the risky play you can end up being the pairing that gets targeted. It seems to be the issue as of right now as the other pairings keep opponents on their toes.

The most important thing this pairing can do is getting some sort of stability before the playoffs. If they stick with Nutivaara and Murray, they need to test them and make sure they are ready for any match up that may come. Likewise for Murray and Quincey. The tiniest flaw could be exploited and make the difference in a seven game series.