You can't get much closer to the Stanley Cup Playoffs than the Columbus Blue Jackets did last season. A surge during the final two months of the regular season enabled the Blue Jackets to finish with 55 points in 48 games, the same number as the Minnesota Wild. But the Wild's 22 non-shootout victories were three more than Columbus' 19, giving Minnesota the final playoff berth in the Western Conference.
Realignment has moved Columbus to the newly formed Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference, meaning that the Blue Jackets will be spending a lot less time in airplanes this season. Whether they'll be spending the spring competing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs depends largely on the answers to these six questions: