Perception Filters

Not what it looks like. Honest. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

Right now, it's very easy to look at the Jackets and see a team scraping the bottom. In fact, that's all a lot of people are doing, especially in the mainstream media.

But when you look at the numbers, it's worth considering that not only could this team be in a lot worse shape, but that they're actually doing some things right. Let's take a look at a few things you might be hearing a lot, and what's really going on

"The Jackets Can't Score!" - On the surface, yep, you're absolutely right. They've got a grand total of 12 goals in 6 games - not something to be proud of...but also, surprisingly, not near the bottom of the NHL. That honor (if that's thr word) is shared by the Devils and Rangers, with 9 apiece. Over in the West, the Sharks and Oilers are both currently at 10 goals (and it's worse for San Jose when you consider 6 of those came in their home opener), while Anaheim has 11. Other teams currently on par (or worse) in the goal scoring department include the Jets, Bruins, Islanders, Canadiens, and Predators....and for all the talk about the unstoppable Red Wings...they've only scored 13 goals so far.

"We're giving up way too many goals." - Again, yes...and no. The Jackets have allowed 20 goals in 6 games, but that ties them for 13th in the West with the Blues and Canucks, while over in the East you have the Penguins giving up 20, the Lightning giving up 26, and Ottawa giving up 30.

"We're buried and we won't get anywhere." - If we assume that Columbus is somehow going to continue their current .083 points rate, yes, then over the next 76 games the Blue Jackets would be likely to end the season with 7 points. However, by that same logic, you expect the Red Wings and Capitals to go 82-0, or the Stars to end the season with a 67-15-0 record. This game simply isn't that kind of sport - right now the current streak is bad. But regression to the mean tends to hit teams, and hit hard. The Jackets are pretty likely to pick up more than 6 wins, while the teams currently rolling are likely to hit stumbling blocks along the way. Also, remember that the Jackets had a very tough early season schedule even without losing James Wisniewski or Jeff Carter, and the general consensus is that the team will start seeing a much lighter load after the All Star Game. I'm not saying it will magically fix things, but if they can pull their heads back above water in the next two weeks and get themselves perhaps even above .500 in November...

"The Top Line Sucks" - Rick Nash is still on a point a game pace. Jeff Carter was right behind him until getting injured. Vinny Prospal is right behind him. Let's give them some slack.

"The PK is worthless" - Actually, the home PK is up to 84.6% and tied for 15th in the NHL (with a good chance of moving up if they continue to play well on home ice) - the road PK has been seeing problems, but the story there is more about the fact they've played two road games so far. The Jackets surrendered two PP goals in Minnesota and 1 PP goal in Dallas. As the sample size expands, it's likely to improve quickly as well. 

I won't tell you everything's perfect - the power play is still a problem, and our secondary scoring isn't. The team needs to start putting numbers in the W column, and attendance is in a bad way because of that lack. But there are a lot of reasons to keep faith with this team, and the numbers strongly suggest it's not quite as bad as you might think.

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