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Cannon Blasts: Sometimes you feel like a Nut(ivaara), sometimes you don’t

A baffling lineup decision, plus more links for your Monday reading

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NHL: OCT 30 Oilers at Blue Jackets Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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This weekend, defenseman Markus Nutivaara was scratched for both games. Despite him missing two games the previous week with a lower body injury, for these games he was listed as a “healthy scratch.” In his place was the infamous Scott Harrington. This is a baffling decision, to me. Nutivaara has been a consistently strong player for the last three seasons, even when given second pair minutes (like down the stretch last season). Scott Harrington, on the other hand, is at best a replacement level player. Occasionally worse than that!

Here are some on-ice 5v5 stats (rank among the eight Blue Jackets defensemen in parentheses), courtesy of the indispensable Natural Stat Trick:

Games: Nutivaara 9 (6), Harrington 4 (8)
TOI/GP: Nutivaara 15:23 (5), Harrington 13:23 (8)
CF/60: Nutivaara 55.86 (4), Harrington 51.54 (8)
CA/60: Nutivaara 54.57 (3), Harrington 58.26 (5)
CF%: Nutivaara 50.59 (3), Harrington 46.94 (8)
FF/60: Harrington 47.06 (1), Nutivaara 43.31 (4)
FA/60: Nutivaara 38.98 (4), Harrington 42.58 (8)
FF%: Nutivaara 52.63 (2), Harrington 52.50 (3)
SF/60: Harrington 39.22 (1), Nutivaara 33.35 (5)
SA/60: Harrington 30.25 (6), Nutivaara 30.31 (7)
SF%: Harrington 56.45 (1), Nutivaara 52.38 (5)
GF/60: Nutivaara 2.17 (4), Harrington 1.12 (8)
GA/60: Nutivaara 1.73 (2), Harrington 4.48 (8)
GF%: Nutivaara 55.56 (2), Harrington 20.00 (8)
xGF/60: Harrington 3.11 (1), Nutivaara 2.04 (6)
xGA/60: Nutivaara 1.91 (4), Harrington 2.32 (8)
xGF%: Harrington 57.32 (2), Nutivaara 51.67 (6)
On-ice Shooting %: Nutivaara 6.49 (4), Harrington 2.86 (8)
On-ice Save %: Nutivaara 94.29 (2), Harrington 85.19 (8)

We’re still dealing with small sample sizes here, but there is already a stark contrast here. Across the board, at things that are important for defensemen (read: preventing shots and goals), Harrington is clearly the worst on the team. Nutivaara, on the other hand, is solidly in the middle and should NEVER be in consideration for a healthy scratch.

What captures your attention, however, is the few stats where Harrington leads the team. It paints a picture that his presence leads to a high pace game. That is, lots of shots for but also lots of shots surrendered. This could be OK if those shots for went in, but in his case they do not. Maybe that will change with more opportunity? Given his history, though, I’m not holding my breath. Notably, he is second in high danger shot attempts, but is the only one not on the ice for a high danger goal for. Meanwhile, while he’s fifth in high danger shot attempts allowed, he has allowed a staggering 3.36 high danger goals against per 60 minutes. The next closest is David Savard with 1.58.

Of course if Harrington plays more games then some of the more extreme numbers may regress closer to the rest of the group. Yet I see some trends which match the high test: when he shoots, it’s a long range bomb and there’s not much skill demonstrated. Heck, even a guy like Savard has occasionally shown a nifty dangle. On the other end, Harrington’s lack of awareness and poor positioning lead to many more prime chances against, thus exposing the goalies.

In conclusion: Torts, pull yer head outta yer ass and put Nuti back in. I didn’t think our Halloween tweet would have summoned such bad play:

The week that was

Game 12: EDM 4 CBJ 1
Game 13: STL 4 CBJ 3 (OT)
Game 14: CGY 3 CBJ 0

Bad, bad week. Only one point earned in three games, and that was the only game that was ever close. Yet it was still frustrating because the Jackets held a two goal lead on the road than blew it thanks to two quick goals during and immediately after a St. Louis power play.

I did a Q&A with the SBN Oilers blog, Copper & Blue, prior to Wednesday’s game. Immediately many of my responses were proven wrong. Especially the nice stuff I said about the defense and Korpisalo.

The results from the first round of FanPulse questions came in, and the voters do not have confidence in the Jackets returning to the playoffs.

elpalito checked in on the Metro division and our non-AHL prospects.

After his blistering article about the power play, MrSwift ranted about it on the Cannon Cast as well.

Columbus native Kole Sherwood was called up and played on Saturday. He took a nasty sucker punch from noted thug Milan Lucic. Thankfully the NHL did the right thing and suspended him for two games:

During the Edmonton game, their reporters were caught by surprise by the cannon. That will never cease to entertain me. Our own Rachel Bules is next to them, totally undisturbed. Not even plugging her ears, like Jeff Svoboda to her left.

On deck

Tuesday: vs. Vegas
Thursday: at Arizona
Saturday: at Colorado

I think this three game road trip (concluding next week in Montreal) can be a good thing. The team can bond as they are stuck together for a week, away from their families.

Monsters Mash

The Cleveland Monsters swept the Charlotte Checkers this weekend. Fun fact: when they play in certain markets, the Checkers have to be called the Charlotte Rallys instead.

Be sure to check out that Cannon Cast episode for some more Monsters analysis from Elaine.

Around the league

I really enjoyed this article from Peter at Winging It In Motown based on the presentation he made at the recent Rochester Hockey Analytics Conference. In it, he evaluated GMs based on the value they got from players they signed to ELCs, RFA contracts, and UFA contracts. Jarmo Kekalainen looks good and Scott Howson looks bad. The strengths for Jarmo are ELCs and UFAs. That basically means that his drafted players play well in their early seasons, and few of the UFA contracts became albatrosses. Howson’s UFA signings, on the other hand...woof.

Andrei Svechnikov scored an absurd goal:

This is the first time that this “lacrosse style” goal has been successfully completed in the NHL. It is sometimes called a “Michigan” goal, based on a Michigan player scoring that way in a NCAA tournament game. I hate that, a) because I don’t want to give Michigan credit for anything, and b) why not name it after the player who pulled it off? His name is Mike Legg, by the way. Here’s the original Legg goal:

Ohio Sports Update

Ohio’s NFL teams are still bad! The Bengals at least had the courtesy to spare their fans by having a bye week. The Browns, on the other hand, got beat by a QB making his first NFL start. I’m done with Freddie Kitchens. He’s in over his head as a head coach and I worry that each additional week he’s in charge it is doing irreparable damage to the long term prospects of the young players, Baker Mayfield in particular.

Speaking of Cincinnati, the GOOD football team there survived a scare against ECU. The Bearcats are ranked #17 in both the AP and Coaches polls, and are the highest ranked mid-major team. They have a real shot at playing in a New Years 6 bowl game. That may also earn Luke Fickell a shot at some high profile coaching jobs. USC? Florida State?

Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor and catcher Roberto Perez each won Gold Gloves. I feel like Lindor actually regressed defensively this season, but so often this award is assigned based on reputation. Perez, on the other hand, was well-deserving in his first year as the primary catcher. Not only does he field well, but he is an ace pitch framer, mentored the young pitching staff, and flashed a bit of power with his bat as well (24 homers, more than doubling his career total).

Play me out

The Jackets played the St. Louis Blues on Friday. That name has always bugged me a bit. St. Louis is not actually a city that is known for the blues. You’d think Chicago, or Memphis, or the general Mississippi Delta region. Heck, even within the state of Missouri Kansas City has a much greater blues and jazz tradition. So what’s with the name? It comes from a 1914 composition by W.C. Handy, which was one of the first blues songs to gain popularity. Here is one of the more famous recordings, by the great Bessie Smith. A young Louis Armstrong is featured on cornet. But please, Blues, for the love of God don’t bring back those hideous 90s uniforms with the trumpets on them.