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December 2019 Month in Review

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We’re going streaking!

Washington Capitals v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images

Previously: October, November

RESULTS

L 2-4 vs. ARI
L 2-3 vs. NYR
L 1-4 @ FLA
W 5-2 @ WSH
L 0-1 (OT) @ PIT
L 3-4 (OT) @ OTT
W 3-0 vs. WSH
W 5-3 @ DET
W 3-2 (OT) vs. LAK
W 5-1 vs. NJD
W 3-2 @ NYI
L 1-2 (OT) @ WSH
L 2-3 (SO) vs. CHI
W 4-1 vs. FLA

Another roller coaster month. It started with three discouraging losses, and after a surprise dominant win at Washington, two no-shows at Pittsburgh and Ottawa that somehow each went to overtime. Then the Columbus Blue Jackets won five in a row and ended up with an 11 game point streak at the end of the month. The overall record for the month was 7-3-4. That’s real .500, but an improvement over the Bettman-point-skewed hockey .500 of the first two months.

STANDINGS

The Jackets started the month in seventh place in the Metro and six points out of a playoff position in the East. Those 18 points in 14 games shot them up all the way to ... sixth place in the Metro and five points behind Philadelphia for the second wild card. Oh. I hate this division. The good news is that fewer teams stand between our position and the playoff line. Pittsburgh is still missing Sidney Crosby and just lost Jake Guentzel, so that’s a team above us that could fall off (lol jk, they’ll never die).

STATS

December 2019 Stats

. October November December
. October November December
Goals For/60 2.55 (26th) 2.47 (25th) 2.79 (23rd)
Goals Allowed/60 3.54 (27th) 2.55 (10th) 2.21 (2nd)
Power Play % 13.2 (25th) 26.7 (5th) 11.4 (30th)
Penalty Kill % 75.7 (24th) 86.8 (4th) 80.9 (10th)
5v5 Shooting % 7.14 (24th) 5.95 (27th) 7.20 (22nd)
5v5 Save % 91.61 (18th) 92.05 (17th) 93.71 (5th)
5v5 Corsi For % 49.49 (17th) 50.16 (14th) 50.85 (11th)
5v5 Fenwick For % 50.70 (13th) 54.52 (7th) 53.90 (7th)
5v5 xG% 51.54 (9th) 55.36 (2nd) 54.50 (5th)

They still struggle to buy a goal (despite four games with four or more goals, and four games with three goals), but defense and goaltending are great! The underlying numbers are solid, showing that this is a competitive - though not great - team. That’s still impressive, given the roster turnover this month.

Stats courtesy of NHL.com and Natural Stat Trick

THREE STARS

Third Star: Vladislav Gavrikov

With injuries this season to top defensemen like Zach Werenski, Ryan Murray, and Markus Nutivaara, Russian rookie Gavrikov has stepped right in to be a reliable second pair defender. He has been productive despite a revolving door of partners. The current “Gavy/Savy” pair is really fun to watch. Not only can they lay hits and block shots, but they are effective at move the puck out of the defensive zone. At 5v5, he was on ice for 13 Columbus goals, and just five goals allowed. Three of those goals for were scored by him, which has been a pleasant surprise for a player not expected to provide much offensively.

Second Star: BJORKSTRAND

The leading goal scorer for the month was Oliver Bjorkstrand, who scored six despite missing the last four games. All season long, The Maestro has been one of the few consistently productive forwards. Even when he didn’t score he still made an impact in the 200 foot game. He’s out 4-6 weeks with a rib injury and that’s a big loss. The Jackets are 12-2-1 this season when BJORKSTRAND records a point.

First Star: Joonas Korpisalo

After an up-and-down first month, I had given Korpi some credit last month for keeping the team in the game most nights, and improving his stats to the ranks of league average. In December, among the 43 goalies with at least six games played, he is third in save percentage (.932) and GAA (1.94).

For the entire season, among goalies with at least 16 starts, Korpi is tied for fourth in wins (17), 14th in save percentage (.913), and 9th in GAA (2.49). He has gained notice outside of Columbus, earning a spot on the Metro division All Star team. Sadly he will not be able to participate due to a torn meniscus suffered in the penultimate game of the month, which will keep him sidelined until February.

3.6 ROENTGEN: Not great, not terrible

Cam Atkinson

I’ve ripped on him in both previous months in review for his lack of 5v5 goals. Well, not only did he finally score at 5v5 in December, all five of his goals this month (that’s good for second on the team) came at even strength. This included two big goals in a dominant road victory over the Capitals. He’s not quite last year’s edition of Cam yet, but at least he’s tossed the monkey off his back. Sadly, like BJORKSTRAND, Atkinson got hurt just as he was heating up. He’s on IR with a lower body injury and an indeterminate timetable for return. The good news is he has been skating recently. A return in January would give this team a much needed boost.

NEEDS IMPROVEMENT

Injuries

The injury bug attacked with a vengeance in December. In addition to Brandon Dubinsky (out all season with a nagging wrist injury) and Markus Nutivaara (out since early November with an upper body injury and unrelated illness), the Blue Jackets have the following players on injured reserve as the calendar turns to 2020 (takes deep breath): Josh Anderson, Cam Atkinson, Emil Bemstrom, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Joonas Korpisalo, Ryan Murray, and Andrew Peeke. Yikes. Zach Werenski missed a few weeks in late November and early December and Sonny Milano has been “day to day” with a concussion since December 14.

It brings to mind the epidemic of injuries that derailed the 2014-15 season. Thankfully, this time the AHL reinforcements have done a better job of carrying the load. Special credit to Kevin Stenlund, Nathan Gerbe, and Ryan MacInnis for fitting in seamlessly.

Power Play

After a 26.7% success rate in November, it was down to just 11.4% in December. That’s worse than the 13.2% in October.

I suppose you could make the excuse that the injuries have forced new lineups, and those take time to gel. Still, it should never be THIS bad.

Poll

How many points will the Blue Jackets earn in January 2020? (Out of 11 games)

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    0-6
    (0 votes)
  • 20%
    7-11
    (14 votes)
  • 69%
    12-16
    (48 votes)
  • 10%
    17-22
    (7 votes)
69 votes total Vote Now