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Cannon Blasts: Are the Blue Jackets slow starters?

That and more of this week’s links

NHL: FEB 20 Predators at Blue Jackets Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s been a frustrating and inconsistent start to the season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, but as I reflect on it, I recall that last season also saw a slow start. That team managed to click in December 2019, and even though it was a longer season than this one, they were in third place in the Metro through 56 games, with a very nice 69 points.

So, I thought I’d compare some basic stats from the first 19 games of this season to the first 19 games of last season. I went ahead and threw the other starts of the Torts era in there for comparison.

CBJ Stats through 19 games

Season Date Points RW GF/GP GA/GP PP% PK% 5v5 SAT 5v5 USAT 5v5 SH% 5v5 SV% G Lead P Lead
Season Date Points RW GF/GP GA/GP PP% PK% 5v5 SAT 5v5 USAT 5v5 SH% 5v5 SV% G Lead P Lead
2016-17 11/25 25 8 3.21 2.37 29.4 82.7 49.5 48.7 8.3 93.4 Atkinson, Foligno (8) Atkinson, Foligno, Wennberg (19)
2017-18 11/15 23 5 2.89 2.63 9.3 81.3 52.4 53.5 8.1 92.9 Anderson (7) Panarin (13)
2018-19 11/16 24 9 3.42 3.21 16.2 76.6 49.6 50.8 9 92.1 Dubois (9) Panarin (18)
2019-20 11/16 18 3 2.37 3.26 14.5 76.8 49.2 51.4 6.3 92 Dubois (7) Dubois (12)
2020-21 02/21 20 7 2.84 3.32 15.2 73.8 45.8 43.8 8.6 91.1 Atkinson (7) Atkinson/BJORKSTRAND (14)

One surprise is how much better this team is at sealing the deal in regulation, even compared to the 2017-18 season. The offense is already much better than last season’s, and at this point last season the defense and goaltending were shaky like they are now.

Most concerning from these stats is the possession numbers, which reflect what the eye test has shown: this team is getting buried in its own zone, and not spending extended stretches in the offensive zone.

Does anything else stand out to you?

The week that was

Game 17: CAR 7, CBJ 3
Game 18: CBJ 3, NSH 0
Game 19: NSH 4, CBJ 2

A dominant win on Thursday sandwiched between two embarrassments.

On deck

Tuesday: vs. Chicago
Thursday: vs. Chicago
Saturday: at Nashville
Sunday: at Nashville

The Jackets split the four games in Chicago. Can they tip the scales in their favor in Columbus? Then a trip to Nashville, who has been collapsing but still hold a 3-1-0 record over the Jackets this season.

Will we see Matiss Kivlenieks get a start in any of these games with Elvis Merzlikins out for matter of weeks?

More from The Cannon

First, some outside appearances from the staff since the last CBs:

  • MrSwift appeared on the On The Forecheck Podcast to preview the Nashville games, break down the goalie battle, and discuss whether or not Seth Jones is good.
  • Cannon contributor emeritus Dan P. brought back the DKM Hockey Podcast after a four year hiatus. Be sure to listen through the end, where Dan, John, and Morgan look at what has changed in that time, and what remains the same since 2017.
  • The latest episode of Will’s Cutting 2 the Chase podcast features Max Bultman, the Red Wings reporter for The Athletic.
  • SBN Chicago blog Second City Hockey has a new feature where they interview writers from other SBN blogs. We volunteered Chicago native Elaine for this segment.

Speaking of Elaine, she has left to focus on a new writing gig. You can read her coverage of the Monsters and the rest of their division at Full Press Coverage. Here is her recap of the Monsters’ overtime loss on Saturday. We wish Elaine nothing but the best.

And don’t worry, we still plan on including prospect coverage at The Cannon, including the Monsters. Stay tuned for a call for new writers, too.

Breaking T released a new shirt. This one honors the “textbook top cheese” quote from Patrik Laine regarding one of his highlight reel goals.

SBNation page Secret Base took inspiration from Pierre-Luc Dubois and Herman Melville to write Bartleby, the hockeyist.

In the latest NHL Reacts results, a vast majority of fans don’t think the NHL should suspend the season in the wake of COVID outbreaks on multiple teams. Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets will be letting fans back in next week. Is this a good idea? Let us know here.

Will did some research on how the defense is contributing to the recent goaltending woes.

MrSwift again called for John Tortorella’s firing. Rachel responded with a defense of what Tortorella has done right for the organization.

Meanwhile, I wrote about how all of the off-ice drama is exhausting. A week and a half after writing this, I’m no less tired.

Play me out

RIP Chick Corea: pianist and composer of this song which is both fun and difficult to play in a school jazz band: