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December: Month in Review

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For one month, we saw perfection

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Minnesota Wild
Every game in December ended with a handshake line
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Previously: October; November

RESULTS

W 3-2 @ COL
W(SO) 3-2 @ ARI
W 4-1 vs. ARI
W 4-1 @ DET
W 6-2 vs. NYI
W 3-1 @ EDM
W 4-1 @ CAL
W(OT) 4-3 @ VAN
W(SO) 3-2 vs. LAK
W 7-1 vs. PIT
W 2-1 vs. MTL
W 4-3 vs. BOS
W 5-3 @ WPG
W 4-2 @ MIN

14-0-0. First perfect month in franchise history. The only perfect month in NHL history with more wins? Pittsburgh with a 15-0-0 run in March 2013.

Oh yeah, and now Columbus is just two wins shy of the NHL record for consecutive wins, which was 17 in a row set by the Penguins in the 1992-93 season.

The Jackets have a 15 game win streak, and a 17 game point streak.

In the ever-important division games? Regulation wins against the Penguins and Islanders. 5-0 against the Metro all season, all in regulation.

STANDINGS

At the start of the month, Columbus was in 4th place in the Metro, 6th in the East, and 9th in the league, though obviously they had fewer games played than everyone else. Now? 1st, 1st, 1st. And still have games in hand on almost everyone.

SportsClubStats has Columbus with a 99.99% chance of making the playoffs, a 71.9% chance of winning the President’s Trophy (for highest point total) and a 26.2% chance of winning the Stanley Cup.

STATS

(December stats and rankings in bold, November and October in italics in that order)

Goals: 54 (2nd)/49 (2nd)/18 (28th)
Goals Allowed: 25 (2nd)/30 (7th)/17 (t-3rd)
Power Play %: 27.1 (4th)/25.0 (1st)/33.33 (2nd)
Penalty Kill %: 77.8 (20th)/81.3 (21st)/86.96 (7th)
5v5 Shooting %: 11.0 (t-1st)/9.3 (6th)/9.2 (15th)
5v5 Save %: .954 (1st)/.933 (12th)/.940 (2nd)
5v5 PDO %: 106.4 (t-1st; unsustainable)/102.6 (6th)/101.8 (7th)
5v5 CF: 50.85 (10th)/50.52 (16th)/47.88 (22nd)

The power play success rate declined a bit, though is still the bets in the league for the whole season. That first unit is showing such chemistry together - and a solid scheme, credit coach Brad Larsen - that it should remain among the best in the league.

The Corsi numbers (aka corgi) have improved significantly, which is a very good sign.

THREE STARS

It was really hard to narrow this one down

Third Star: Brandon Saad

Saad has played well all season, but for the first two months he wasn’t scoring at the same pace as last season. He has heated up in December. He led all skaters with an even-strength corgi* of 56.67. He scored 8 goals and 15 points, each being second in the month, behind Cam Atkinson. He earned a point in 11 of 14 games, including the last 5 of the month (3/4/7 in those 5 games).

*Sidenote: My favorite meme of the month in the comments is referring to the Corsi stat as “corgi.” Yes, I’m going to use it for the rest of this article.

Second Star: Jack Johnson/David Savard

Savard was in this section last month, while Johnson was in the “Needs Improvement” section. In December JJ has grown much more comfortable in his role, and in partnership with Savard. Johnson tallied his 100th assist as a Blue Jacket, becoming just the second defenseman in franchise history to achieve that mark (Fedor Tyutin).

Savard led all Columbus players in +/- at 16, with Johnson right behind at 13 (Saad in third with 12).

First Star: Sergei Bobrovsky/Curtis McElhinney

Bob is once again the number one cop on the force. He has 24 wins, 5 more than any other goaltender. Only two other TEAMS (not including Columbus) have more wins than that this season. For the month of December, his numbers were a 12-0-0 record, 1.75 GAA and .939 SV%.

Let’s not overlook what Curtis McElhinney did in relief. He won both of his starts in December, each in a shootout. His GAA was 1.85 and his save percentage was .950. He made some huge saves in each overtime and shootout. This team is riding Bob - and rightfully so - but Mac has done his part in each of his starts.

NEEDS IMPROVEMENT

Yeah, this is mostly nit-picking at this point:

Scott Hartnell

Hartnell has had a smaller role with the team as the season goes on. In December he only averaged 12:20 minutes of ice time per game. His hat trick againts the Penguins was a highlight of the month, but he only scored one goal in the other 13 games, and 5 assists.

Josh Anderson

His offensive production has cooled off a bit. He only tallied a goal and 3 assists in December, while also collecting 22 PIM. He had the worst +/- on the team in December (only 0, but still) and the worst corgi at 41.51.