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Do the Blue Jackets play up or down to their competition?

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and what does this mean for the second half?

NHL: Dallas Stars at Columbus Blue Jackets Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Going into their league-mandated bye week, the Columbus Blue Jackets suffered two embarrassing losses, to Buffalo and Vancouver. Each is one of the worst teams in the league this season. Yet after the break, the Jackets beat the Dallas Stars, who are one of the better teams in the league this season, just two weeks after beating those Stars in Dallas to open the new year. Are the Blue Jackets playing down to bad teams, and playing up against quality opponents?

For this analysis, I broke up the league into 3 tiers: the top 10 teams, the bottom 10 teams, then the 10 teams in the middle (which fall right around Columbus in the standings at this point, incidentally).

Top 10

Teams: Tampa Bay, Vegas, Boston, Nashville, Winnipeg, Washington, St. Louis, Dallas, Toronto, San Jose

Games Played: 14
Games Remaining: 11
Record: 7-6-1, 15 points (87.74 point pace)
Goals per game: 2.21
Goals Against per game: 2.93
Shots on goal per game: 32.43
Shots allowed per game: 32.35

Highlights: Sweeping both Winnipeg and Dallas
Lowlights: Either the 2-7 beatdown at Boston, or the 0-2-1 record against Tampa Bay.

Middle 10

Teams: New Jersey, Colorado, Calgary, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, NY Rangers, Anaheim, Pittsburgh, NY Islanders

Games Played: 15
Games Remaining: 15
Record: 9-4-2, 20 points (109.06 point pace)
Goals per game: 3.07
Goals Against per game: 2.53
Shots on goal per game: 35.33
Shots allowed per game: 30.47

Highlights: Offensive explosions against the Islanders (5-0 and 6-4); 6-1-2 record against Metro teams in this tier.
Lowlights: Giving up 6 to Los Angeles or blowing a late lead at Pittsburgh in the second meeting.

Bottom 10

Teams: Chicago, Carolina, Edmonton, Florida, Montreal, Detroit, Vancouver, Ottawa, Buffalo, Arizona

Games Played: 18
Games Remaining: 9
Record: 10-8-0, 20 points (91.02 point pace)
Goals per game: 2.38
Goals Against per game: 2.67
Shots on goal per game: 33.56
Shots allowed per game: 31.72

Highlights: 5 goals on WEDNESDAY NIGHT RIVALRY in late October or 7 goals at Florida in early November.
Lowlights: The aforementioned losses to Buffalo and Vancouver this month, or the 1-5 loss to Chicago in the second game of the season.

Conclusions

It’s fascinating to me that the Blue Jackets seem to struggle as much at scoring goals against the bottom teams as against the top teams. It’s the fellow teams in the middle that we’re able to light the lamp against. Despite getting outscored by bottom teams, however, the Blue Jackets rarely get outshot against that group. Is it just bad luck, or something else?

The good news is that there are few games against those bottom teams left, in case that group continues causing problems. The plurality of remaining games are against other teams in the gooey center. If the success continues, there is the added benefit of forcing ahead of those same teams in the standings.

See below for a full table of results against each team.

What do you take from this, if anything?

2017-18 CBJ stats vs. opponents

Opponent GP GR ROW SOW RL OTL SOL P GF GA SF SA
Opponent GP GR ROW SOW RL OTL SOL P GF GA SF SA
Tampa Bay 3 0 0 0 2 0 1 1 4 11 98 92
Vegas 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Boston 2 1 0 1 1 0 0 2 5 10 50 75
Nashville 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 3 36 29
Winnipeg 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 4 7 3 76 56
Washington 1 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 3 4 35 23
St. Louis 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 4 37 42
Dallas 2 0 1 1 0 0 0 4 3 2 52 58
Toronto 2 1 2 0 0 0 0 4 7 4 70 78
San Jose 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Top 10 totals 14 11 5 2 6 0 1 15 31 41 454 453
Per game: 1.07 2.21 2.93 32.43 32.35
New Jersey 2 2 1 0 1 0 0 2 6 7 70 60
Colorado 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 34 32
Calgary 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 41 22
Minnesota 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 5 4 35 21
Philadelphia 1 3 0 1 0 0 0 2 1 1 36 31
Los Angeles 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 4 6 36 32
NY Rangers 3 1 2 0 1 0 0 4 8 6 110 100
Anaheim 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 4 2 31 27
Pittsburgh 2 2 0 0 0 0 2 2 6 6 65 78
NY Islanders 2 2 2 0 0 0 0 4 11 4 72 54
Middle 10 totals 15 15 8 1 4 0 2 20 46 38 530 457
Per game: 1.33 3.07 2.53 35.33 30.47
Chicago 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 5 33 29
Carolina 4 0 1 1 2 0 0 4 6 8 127 122
Edmonton 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 2 7 29 38
Florida 2 1 1 1 0 0 0 4 9 5 88 78
Montreal 2 1 1 0 1 0 0 2 3 4 63 57
Detroit 1 2 0 1 0 0 0 2 1 1 32 33
Vancouver 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 2 5 29 29
Ottawa 2 1 1 0 1 0 0 2 9 7 57 54
Buffalo 3 0 2 0 1 0 0 4 9 6 112 96
Arizona 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 34 35
Bottom 10 totals 18 9 7 3 8 0 0 20 43 48 604 571
Per game: 1.11 2.38 2.67 33.56 31.72