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October: Month in Review

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Best start ever, but room for improvement

NHL: New York Islanders at Columbus Blue Jackets Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Can you believe we’re already a month into the new season? Let’s see what happened:

RESULTS

W 5-0 vs. NYI
L 1-5 vs. CHI
W(OT) 2-1 @ CAR
W 3-1 vs. NYR
W(OT) 5-4 @ MIN
W 5-2 @ WIN
L 0-2 vs. TBL
L 4-6 vs. LAK
W 5-1 vs. BUF
W(OT) 2-1 vs. WIN
L 1-4 @ STL
W(SO) 4-3 vs. BOS

The Blue Jackets started this season with the best October in franchise history:

Highlights were an opening night shutout of the Islanders and a decisive defeat of the Sabres on the only NBCSN game of the season. Lowlights were, well, any game against the other division leaders (Lightning, Kings, Blues).

STANDINGS

The Jackets are tied for the lead in the Metro with the surprising New Jersey Devils, but have played two more games than them. It’s huge to be in this position so early. Now it’s a matter of keeping pace rather than having to catch up. Better us than the last place New York Rangers.

STATS

Goals For: 36 (t-13)
Goals Allowed: 30 (t-6)
Power Play %: 8.6 (31)
Penalty Kill %: 84.4 (6)
5v5 Shooting %: 7.7 (18)
5v5 Save %: 92.8 (t-8)
5v5 PDO: 100.6 (16)
5v5 Corsi For %: 53.75 (4)

The good: Bob is doing his Bob things. The skaters are generally dominating possession. The penalty kill has been excellent, with seemingly every forward getting a chance to contribute.

The bad: The power play is an embarrassment. It’s the complete opposite of the league leading power play we saw last year in November and December. The 5v5 shooting percentage is a bit low, so hopefully some of the luck turns for the better.

THREE STARS

Third Star: Sonny Milano

His play has fallen off lately, and he was a healthy scratch in the last game of the month, but let’s remember the good times. He remains the team’s leading goal scorer, with 5 in the month. 4 of those game in the first 3 games, including this OT winner in Carolina:

Second Star: Seth Jones and Zach Werenski

This duo picked up where they left off from last season. Their all-around game is as good as ever. The most fun part of their game is the freedom Torts has given them to play forward on offense. Example: this goal in Winnipeg where a rush was led not by forwards, but by these two defensemen:

First Star: Artemi Panarin

The biggest offseason acquisition has lived up to the hype. He has only one goal, but plenty of other near-goals. He does lead the team in assists with 9 and points with 10. His skill dazzles every time he is on the ice. Not only is he a magician with the puck, but he has proven to be effective on defense as well.

NEEDS IMPROVEMENT

Power Play

It’s just so bad. The players are thinking rather than just playing. There is too much passing around the edge, and not enough time with the puck in high danger areas around the crease. Brad Larsen has yet to figure out a solution but that better come soon.

Sonny Milano

Is it fair to put him in the three stars AND the needs improvement sections? Sonny has some skill, and I think the front office believes in him, but he needs to keep putting in work to minimize his mistakes and regain the trust of Torts.

Alexander Wennberg

He was supposed to be the 1C we were waiting for, playing between Artemi Panarin and Cam Atkinson. That line never quite produced as expected. Now Wennberg finds himself dropped to the third line, between Matt Calvert and Oliver BJORKSTRAND. Now, he hasn’t been bad, necessarily (he’s second in points, with 9), but he has yet to take over a game. I do think he has that ability.