Scoring Chances Update: Halfway Point

With 42 games officially in the books, it seemed like a good a time as any to look at the compiled scoring chances and figure out who the Jackets' best and worst players have been at even strength, the power play, and shorthanded. The names won't surprise you, but the sheer degrees may be a bit surprising.

To avoid piling on, any player who has not been in at least 14 games (1/3 of the season) was not considered. That means the numbers are not skewed by Kris Russell, Radek Martinek, or Kristian Huselius, but it also means that players like Matt Calvert, David Savard, and Alexandre Giroux do not show up. For special teams, there are players who obviously see very little time shorthanded or on the power play, and I've tried to take that into account as well.

Now that we've established that...on with the show.

Even Strength:

Best Forward: Vinny Prospal (+22): Though Vinny's seen a few rough games, particularly as he's been part of the repeated shuffles of the top six of late, his 178 positive chances leads all Jackets' skaters, and he's managed to balance that with "only" 146 negative chances in 42 games this season, for an average of four positive chances and three against per game.

Worst Forward: Jared Boll (-30): Given his roll, Boller isn't expected to be a defensive specialist, but this is pretty scary. With only 18 chances for in 27 games, and 48 against, he's giving up at least two chances a game, and only likely to get a chance in his favor every other game. Considering the way his ice time has been strictly limited, you have to cringe at the thought of the pugilist seeing more games...or worse, more minutes.

Best Defenseman: Aaron Johnson (+29): Johnson isn't just the best defenseman at even strength scoring chances - he's actually got the best ratio on the team as a whole. With 92 positive chances and only 63 against in 19 games, it's a frustrating question: Is he looking so good because the team is so carefully guarding his starts and competition, or is he finally getting it together and deserves a chance to play his way up the lineup?

Worst Defenseman: James Wisniewski (-46): Much like Johnson, Wiz leads (if that's the word) the team in this category. Certainly not helped by his role, it's worth noting that in 29 games Wiz had 120 positive chances to his 166 against, so at least he's clearly contributing.

Power Play:

Best PP Forward: Rick Nash (+85) -The captain generates two chances a game on the man advantage on average, while he's only been on on ice for 12 chances against this season with the man advantage (~1 every 4 games.)

Worst PP Forward: Antoine Vermette (+31) - though Vermette is tied in sheer numbers with Mark Letestu, I think the fact that he's been on the PP unit for all 42 games, compared to Letestu's late addition, is worth pointing out. This is not to say that Vermette's necessarily bad - he's seen 32 chances for and only one chance against in that time, but it does mean he's not producing much on a per-game basis - which fits given his underachieving season in general.

Best PP D-man: Fedor Tyutin (+83) - Given that James Wisniewski is only 25 chances behind Tyuts with 13 less games played, I suspect that a full season might have put him on top in this category. However, considering injuries and suspensions, it isn't surprising that the Russian Express takes this honor, given that he's been the primary PP workhorse. Tyutin currently stands with 94 chances for and only 11 against on the man advantage.

Worst PP D-man: Aaron Johnson (+14) This is a little surprising, given his chances at even strength, but the journeyman d-man really hasn't been used much at all on the man advantage, only generating 14 chances in 19 games. Next down on the list (for regular contributors) is Nikita Nikitin, who currently has 38 positive chances and only three against.

Shorthanded:

Best Shorthanded Forward: Jeff Carter (-2) - Carter's versatile abilities came into play here when he was utilized by the team, and though he was on the ice for 6 shorthanded chances against, he also saw four positive chances in that time. Rick Nash, who also has recently become a regular PKer again, was right behind him at -8 (four positive, twelve against.)

Worst Shorthanded Forward: Antoine Vermette (-36): The PKer's role is going to be absorbing a lot of abuse, and Vermette has done so through the season, on ice for 47 chances against and 11 opportunities for with the team shorthanded. Next down on the list is Samuel Pahlsson, who has only 5 chances in his favor and 37 against.

Best Shorthanded D-man: John Moore / Grant Clitsome (-9) - A two way time, both Clitter and Moore play very similar roles and have been PKers on a regular basis - Moore in particular is becoming a fixture of the shorthanded defense as he works to round out his game at the NHL level. Moore has 5 chances for in his favor to 14 against in 31 games, while Clitsome has seen 6 chances for and 15 against in 38 games.

Worst Shorthanded D-man: Fedor Tyutin (-40) - Though Tyutin has been on the ice for 9 shorthanded chances for in 42 games, his 49 chances against is worst overall among regular penalty killers - not surprising given that he also logs the some of the highest shorthanded minutes on the team. Marc Methot comes a close second with 10 chances for and 43 against, but Nikita Nikitin could find himself along the bottom of this category as well - he's currently at a -24 ratio (5 for, 29 against), and seems likely to keep dropping as long as he's part of the PK unit.

It's not pretty, but some of the names are certainly a surprise - pleasant in the case of guys like Moore and Prospal, less so when looking at players like Boll, Vermette, and Tyutin.

It will be interesting to revisit these at the 3/4 point and the end of the season - particularly if some of the current leaders are no longer on the roster for one reason or another.

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