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December 2017: Month in Review

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Not great, Bob, but good enough?

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Columbus Blue Jackets Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Previously: October, November

RESULTS

W 4-2 vs. ANA
L 3-4 @ WAS
L 1-4 vs. NJD
W 5-3 @ NJD
W 1-0 vs. ARI
L 2-7 vs. EDM
W 6-4 vs. NYI
L 1-2 @ CAR
L 2-7 @ BOS
W 4-2 vs. TOR
L(SO) 2-3 @ PIT
W (SO) 2-1 vs. PHI
L (SO) 4-5 @ PIT
L 4-5 @ OTT
L 0-5 @ TBL

This 6-7-2 record was a far cry from the undefeated December last year. That being said, earning 14 points out of a possible 30 feels fortunate based on how poorly the Jackets played for stretches of the month. Most of the struggling players have yet to snap out of it, and others have been injured.

STANDINGS

The Jackets have fallen off pace in the last month but remain in playoff position in third place in the Metro. The Metro remains the most competitive division, with last place Philadelphia (40 points) just 11 points behind first place Washington (51 points). The Jackets (47 points) sit just 3 points ahead the last playoff team, currently the Islanders.

STATS

December Stats

Stat Dec. Rank Nov. Rank Oct. Rank
Stat Dec. Rank Nov. Rank Oct. Rank
Goals For 40 13 31 21 36 t-13
Goals Allowed 52 30 27 5 30 t-6
Power Play % 15.7 20 9.4 30 8.6 31
Penalty Kill % 77.1 24 82.8 t-9 84.4 6
5v5 Shooting % 7.3 18 7.5 15 7.7 18
5v5 Save % 90.4 29 94.1 t-3 92.8 t-8
5v5 PDO 97.7 27 101.6 t-6 100.6 16
5v5 Corsi For % 48.6 22 51.54 11 53.75 4

Yeesh, that’s ugly. Defense and goaltending slipped mightily. The silver lining is the power play improved to “mediocre” from “atrocious.”

THREE STARS

Third Star: Seth Jones

Jonesy had to play a few games with Markus Nutivaara instead of Zach Werenski, but did not miss a step. He collected 11 points this month, third on the team. His four goals included 2 of the goals from the resurgent power play. Plus this beauty:

Second Star: Pierre-Luc Dubois

I don’t like to repeat my three stars, but PLD deserves it. The PB&J line formed in November and stayed strong for the entire month of December. “Luc” scored 4 goals and 8 assists on the month, including 2 goals and 3 assists on the power play. He was especially strong in two battles in Pittsburgh, who have some pretty great centers if you haven’t heard.

First Star: Artemi Panarin

Bread continues to show why he’s the most talented skater to play for the Jackets. Every time he has the puck it’s magic.

NEEDS IMPROVEMENT

Injuries

This team is not deep enough to withstand the amount of injuries it currently has. Cam Atkinson, Alexander Wennberg, Brandon Dubinsky, and Ryan Murray are all out. Zach Werenski missed time. Some of those players have struggled this season but each were playing well immediately prior to their injuries. The good news is that each should return this year, possibly by February. Can the team tread water in their absence, and can Jarmo avoid a panic trade to fill the void?

Sergei Bobrovsky

Bob was lights out in November, but has had a month to forget in December. He was 4-6-2 in 12 starts with a .891 save percentage and 3.46 goals against average. For better or worse, this team is built around Bob. The team can cover for him occasionally, but if he has an extended poor stretch it is difficult to overcome. Joonas Korpisalo played well until laying an egg on New Year’s Eve against Tampa Bay.

Jack Johnson

I put David Savard in this spot last month but Johnson deserves to get called out as well. Case in point:

Ryan Murray needs to come back very soon so he and Markus Nutivaara can resume being the second pair, with Johnson and Savard relegated to third pairing minutes. Perhaps a healthy scratch is warranted for one or both of them. Scott Harrington has shown steady improvement as a third pairing guy while playing every day.