Blue Jackets & Game State Pt 2: So when are we scoring?

Last week, we talked about the game state, and how much time the Jackets were spending on the ice at even strength, ahead, or behind last season.

Thanks to J.J., we now have the rest of the numbers, showing how the Jackets' offense (or lack thereof) tended to play in these situations.

As a team that allowed 258 goals and only scored 215, the Jackets owned the 5th worst goal differential last season - and looking at the game state numbers, there are some clues to why.

Again, these numbers do NOT include goals scored or scored on with the net empty - just when the goalie was on the ice. That means the total game state numbers are slightly off of the "real world" totals, but it's close enough to give a pretty clear picture.

In last week's piece, we suggested that part of the problem with Steve Mason's performance last season wasn't letting in goals (he was actually in net with the lead or at even over 60% of the time), but that the team had problems scoring - especially since about 40% of his time was spent with the team within 1 goal of their opponent, for good or ill. 

Here's what his numbers look like including the goals for and goals against:

Total Time

% of Total

GF

GA

3+

1:31:38

3.03

14

1

2                

3:12:07

6.35

20

3

1

8:42:14

17.26

49

11

0

19:01:53

37.73

28

33

-1

10:10:58

20.19

17

53

-2

4:42:11

9.32

2

31

-3

3:05:29

6.13

4

21

The fact that the team only scored 17 goals when down a goal, compared to being scored on 53 times, explains a lot about last season's results. Can some of that be put at Mason's feet, or the feet of the defense? Certainly, but not all.

It's also interesting that on the whole, this team was great at building a lead and hanging on with Mason between the pipes - get that oh so critical first goal, and the Jackets stood a pretty fair chance of taking a win. Get a two goal lead and this team was virtually unstoppable. 

On the reverse side, the team was almost totally inadequate and getting back into a game - giving up the first goal might be recovered, but give up a second and the chances of coming back dropped like a stone.

Was this, like so many other things last year, part of their collective confidence issues? Did they play a bit more confidently with a lead, loosening up and able to play at their best, and perhaps spent too much time over-doing it when behind, opening themselves up for being exploited by opponents by trying to force things on the ice??

There's a good argument for that when you look at Mathieu Garon's numbers, particularly when you consider how often he came on in relief:

Total Time

% of Total

GF

GA

3+

0:20:57

1.08

4

0

2                

2:06:37

6.53

11

1

1

4:48:58

14:91

21

6

0

11:09:54

34.57

15

12

-1

6:32:31

20.25

5

13

-2

3:41:14

11.42

5

13

-3

3:37:49

11.24

5

23

While Garon's numbers aren't quite as spectacular as Mason's in either direction, he's still pretty consistently unlikely to see offense in front of him when the team isn't in the lead - only 15 of his 69 Goals For were scored with the Jackets trailing, while 69 of the 88 goals to get past him came with the team already behind.

In Mason's case, he was on the ice for 134 goals for, but only 23 of them came while the team was behind (the bulk of them in 1 goal deficit situations), while 105 of his 153 goals allowed came with the team trailing. 

Considering the Jackets' issues with the power play, you can't help but wonder how many of those -1 situations might have been improved by a timely PPG. 

While it's still important for the Jackets' goaltenders to keep this team in the game and give them an edge in close situations, it's clear the offense has to step up to help in "counter-punching" situations. 

The addition of guys like Carter, Prospal, Martinek, and Wisniewski are encouraging steps in the right direction, as was the addition of Todd Richards behind the bench - and it's entirely possible that if he can help the team to bring up their goal scoring in pressure situations that he might be as important an addition to the staff as Ian Clark is expected to be for Steve Mason and Mark Dekanich.

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