Here we are two days after Thanksgiving and the Columbus Blue Jackets are in first place. A franchise first for the holiday, and now a new wins mark in games played after their latest win Friday night.
#CBJ sets a new franchise record with 15 wins through their first 23 games of the season. The club recorded 14 wins through 23 games in 2010-11 and 2016-17.— Chris Krenn (@Chris_Krenn) November 25, 2017
While the holiday might be over, we certainly have plenty to be thankful about at this juncture of the season.
More like the great Bobrovsky is a runaway Vezina—yeah we see you Lightning fan—and maybe even Hart candidate at this point. If leading goals against average (1.91), save percentage (.936), goals saved above average, second in wins, tied first for shutouts, weren't enough, he's routinely carrying the Jackets, through offensive woes and all.
Every game has essentially felt like it's tied or a one-goal affair late, and that in itself magnifies the talent in goal on a nightly basis. They’ve been involved in a tied or one-goal game entering the third period 13 times, and they’ve been tied entering the third six times.
Columbus is tied-18th in goals for per game, while Tampa is scorching at 3.77 and leading the pack. Of the Jackets six wins the past two weeks, half were decided in overtime, four decided by a lone goal, and only two feature winning by more than two goals.
Friday’s 5-2 win over Ottawa had to feel like a blowout for Bob.
I liked this quote from John Tortorella following the Calgary game because it reinforces a good point.
"I thought it was a hard game for 'Bob,' because he didn't have much action. And he's watching the other goalie make save after save, so I thought 'Bob' stood in there, and then made a really good save at the end of the third period."
Ottawa scored twice on seven total shots into the second period, and the second goal by Mike Hoffman bounced the Senators way, literally.
Starting to Improve?
The offense is still churning and trying to find consistency. Last year the team was scoring at a high-level rate. As we would all love the team to score five a game and kick aside 35 a night, it does speak to the notion that for the team, through its offensive malaise and adversity, is still finding ways to win.
You expect the offense to hit their stride. Whether line chemistry is the key variable, the trade front is always the next closest point for discussion.
No Duchene, No Problem?
Yeah, see, the price to acquire him was never worth what it would have taken for Jarmo Kekalainen to pull the trigger. Could Alex Galchenyuk be next?
Matt Duchene has had a hard time getting acclimated with #Sens. Barely noticeable tonight except when he absorbed a big hit by #CBJ Tyler Motte. So far with Ottawa, he’s 0-0-0 and minus-10 in seven games.— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) November 25, 2017
Well, obviously the power play continues to be the conundrum. I think it is a matter of time before the woes are solved. We all do and yet they sit at the bottom. They were leading the league in the category for the first-half a year ago, before finishing second to last after the All-Star Break.
Lately, they have had better looks on the unit as opposed to prior games where they spent more time chasing the puck and kicking it around.
Yes, sometimes hot goaltending is just that.
Mike Smith and Cam Ward come to mind instantly, stepping up huge to stop odd-man rushes and make key saves.
Focus on The Really Bright Side
I know some aren’t enthralled with advanced statistics—PDO—and I don’t claim to overly stress these numbers on a daily basis. Or put too much stock in numbers when the season has passed one-quarter mark.
Last year we heard the Jackets’ PDO was unsustainable. All teams, more or less, regress to the sum of 100 and by the end of last season, the Jackets finished fourth among 5v5 (101.4). Right now they’re tied for 10th (101.1).
Did that pendulum just swing the other way, and maybe they've just been a tad unlucky?
This season, the offense has averaged more shots than league average (+85 shots), but shooting percentage (8.3%) is below par (9.3% average). They're fourth in the league in shots per game (34.7).
Yet all in all, and taking what you want from numbers, perhaps the most important figure is three points off the best mark in the whole league, which tells me this:
The Jackets are still seeking their identity on a nightly basis. It's starting to come, and all this, with the 15-7-1, six-game win streak, and maybe several players starting to break out. The goals will come for Nick Foligno—two points last two games—Cam Atkinson busts a slump—two goals Friday and coming off an in-game demotion against Calgary—as the team opted for a nice five-goal outburst. And how about Josh Anderson, missing camp and all.
Also, the penalty kill is perfect since the second game against the Rangers Nov. 6.
You would be happy if everything was going well right now as if there were seemingly no weaknesses. I take solace that the club is where they're at knowing areas can, and will, still improve. Just as maybe the Jackets high-success rate offensively wasn’t going to last—it kinda did—the power play is not going to be last all season.
You don’t need to be heavy in numbers to say that the talent is present, the results are pouring in, and the best part is still ahead for this team.