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January: Month in Review

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After a perfect December, the inevitable hangover

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Nashville Predators
The Jackets had this reaction too often in January
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Previously: October; November; December

RESULTS

W 3-1 vs. EDM
L 0-5 @ WAS
L 4-5 vs. NYR
W(OT) 2-1 vs. PHI
L 3-5 @ CAR
W 3-1 @ TBL
L 3-4 @ FLA
W 4-1 vs. CAR
L 0-2 vs. OTT
W 3-2 vs. CAR
W(OT) 7-6 @ OTT
L 2-4 @ NYI
L 3-4 @ NAS
W 6-4 @ NYR

The new year started on a high note as the Blue Jackets beat Edmonton to stretch their win streak to 16 games. That was a franchise record and the second longest win streak in NHL history.

Then things took a little bit of a turn.

I’m the optimist so I look for silver linings: with the win on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, Columbus salvaged a .500 record for the month. Struggle through the schedule and still win half the games? I’ll take it. They also continued to avoid a three game losing streak. They have not yet lost three games in a row this season.

STANDINGS

Another silver lining: Columbus did not lose much ground in the standings. They started the year in first place in the entire league. At the end of January, the Jackets record was 33-12-4 for 70 points, putting them in second place in the Metro and the East, 2 points behind Washington. They were third in the league behind Washington and Minnesota (71 points).

SportsClub Stats still has Columbus with a 99.988% chance of making the playoffs, though the odds of winning the President’s Trophy or Stanley Cup have fallen.

STATS

Viewer discretion advised

Monthly Stats

Category January December November October
Category January December November October
Goals 43 (t-7th) 54 (2nd) 49 (2nd) 18 (28th)
Goals Allowed 45 (t-25th) 25 (2nd) 30 (7th) 17 (t-3rd)
Power Play % 17.5 (19th) 27.1 (4th) 25.0 (1st) 33.33 (2nd)
Penalty Kill % 89.5 (2nd) 77.8 (20th) 81.3 (21st) 86.96 (7th)
5v5 Shooting % 8.7 (t-13th) 11.0 (1st) 9.3 (6th) 9.2 (15th)
5v5 Save % .892 (29th) .954 (1st) .933 (12th) .940 (2nd)
5v5 PDO 97.9 (23rd) 106.4 (t-1st) 102.6 (6th) 101.8 (7th)
5v5 Corgi 49.52 (t-13th) 50.85 (10th) 50.52 (16th) 47.88 (22nd)

The team still scored near the top of the league, despite getting shut out twice. The penalty kill numbers improved, which had been a weakness. Every other stat dropped.

THREE STARS

Third Star: Cam Atkinson

It’s almost getting boring listing him on here all the time.

Almost.

Cam led the team in goals in January, with 7. He is tied for second in the league with 24 goals on the season. This earned him a spot in the All Star Game after Evgeni Malkin withdrew with an injury. Cam made the most of his opportunity and scored 3 goals for the Metro division as they won the 4 team 3-on-3 tournament.

Second Star: Zach Werenski

It was only after looking at the stats that I decided to list Werenski here. He had the second best Corgi on the team this month, at 53.19. He played the third-most minutes per game. He scored 2 goals and tallied 5 assists.

First Star: Seth Jones

This was an obvious pick. Jones led the team in ice time and led the team in points, with 10 (tied with Wennberg). Jones also earned an All-Star berth and scored multiple goals just as Cam did. He is not only the most impactful skater on the Columbus roster, but he is earning a reputation as one of the better young blue liners in the league.

NEEDS IMPROVEMENT

Obviously after a 7-7 month there are things that can be improved upon.

John Tortorella

Look, if he received credit for the streak then he deserves some blame for the skid, too. I don’t think he would disagree with me. He was quoted in the Dispatch yesterday saying “You watch some video [during the streak] and you see a couple of things we need to correct. But (then it’s) ‘Let’s leave them alone, let’s let them play.’ I think I got a little sloppy in letting it go to far.” Now that the team has received a wake-up call, let’s see if Torts can fix those mistakes and once again get the players to buy in like they did in the first half of the season.

Health

Sergei Bobrovsky and Matt Calvert missed games to flu, and other players battled it but played through flu-like symptoms. David Savard and Markus Nutivaara are still out with injuries. In their stead, Scott Harrington and Dalton Prout have struggled and other defenders (Johnson and Murray, specifically) cannot carry the extra load. Clearly this team needs to be closer to full strength if they plan on advancing in the playoffs.

Backup Goaltenders

Bob’s numbers were a more pedestrian .908 save percentage and 2.67 GAA, but still good enough. A major weakness has been when he sits. Curtis McElhinney started one game in January: when he blew a big lead to the Rangers, including the game winning goal with 15 seconds left. He was waived two days later. In his stead came Anton Forsberg, who gave up 4 goals on 27 shots in a loss at Carolina. That earned him a ticket back to Cleveland (where he was an AHL All-Star, to be fair) and Joonas Korpisalo has been the backup for most of the month. Korpi is 3-1 in 4 starts, but two of those wins featured him giving up 4 and 6 goals. In his defense, he has faced more than 30 shots in each game but it seems the team plays with less confidence when any of the backup goalies play.