Over the past few seasons there have been very few constants, but we keep seeing one troubling occurrence- terrible starts to the season.
It's become a hallmark of the CBJ: look like shit until December then go on a tear. Of course, normally it's too late to recover by then and the team is left outside of the postseason dance. With the Metropolitan Division tougher than ever, the Jackets simply cannot dig themselves into an early-season hole again.
The fans can't help but think "here we go again...", but despite the 0-3 start, it's not yet time to panic. Without digging too deep into the first three (of eighty-two) games, here are some things to cheer you up:
1 - The Jackets had higher possession numbers in the first two games against the Rangers, despite losing both games.
2 - After three games, the Jackets have a shooting percentage (5-on-5) of 3.0%. There's no way it will stay that low.
3 - Game two, in addition to having a low shooting percentage, the Jackets were on the receiving end of a Lundqvist masterpiece.
Now granted, they were awful against the Sabres, but the underlying numbers indicate that of the first three games, that was their only stinker. The Jackets aren't always going to face Lundqvist, and more of their shot attempts are going to go in the net.
The Jackets have three more games this week, at home Wednesday and Friday against the Senators and Maple Leafs, respectively, and they travel to Chicago on Saturday. The games against the Ontario squads are very good opportunities to get things back on track. Neither has elite goaltending, and though Toronto has been a decent possession team thus far (Babcock) they can't keep the puck out of their net. Chicago on the road is a tough matchup for any squad.
If the shooting percentage doesn't normalize, or if the possession numbers drop and if Bobrovsky can't find a way to make a few more saves, then fans should start looking for the exits. If we are still seeing the same underlying (and on-the-surface) numbers after these three games, the heat under Todd Richards will likely become more than a discomfort.
Until then, I'm more than willing to be patient. The goals will come, and Columbus has the better goaltender in the next three matchups. Stay positive.
Oh- and boys, stay out of the penalty box!