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Reviewing November 2022: Blue Jackets come home

The Jackets endured a wave of injuries but fixed their power play

Detroit Red Wings v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Previously: October

RESULTS

L 3-6 vs. COL
L 1-5 vs. COL
W 5-2 vs. PHI
OTL 3-4 @ NYI
W 5-4 vs. PHI
W 6-4 vs. MTL
L 1-6 vs. DET
W 5-3 vs. FLA
L 1-3 vs. MTL
L 2-3 vs. NYI
SOL 2-3 vs. VGK

November began on a different continent with back-to-back losses against Colorado in Finland. Then, a combination of lesser competition and a quirky home-heavy schedule led to a 4-3-2 record over the rest of the month. This is still a bad team, but at least now they’re more competitive.

STANDINGS

As of the games of November 29, the Blue Jackets remain in dead last in the Metropolitan. They are five points behind the Flyers with two games in hand. They are ten points out of a playoff spot, so it’s understandable that attention turns to the Connor Bedard sweepstakes instead. My points percentage, the Jackets and Blackhawks are tied for second worst in the league, ahead of only the Ducks.

STATS

November Stats

Stat November October 2021-22
Stat November October 2021-22
5v5 CF% 44.21 (31st) 46.6 (25th) 45.5 (26th)
5v5 FF% 44.91 (31st) 46.3 (26th) 45.1 (27th)
5v5 Save % 90.72 (26th) 89.0 (30th) 91.5 (26th)
5v5 Shooting % 7.75 (18th) 9.3 (6th) 8.5 (8th)
5v5 xGF% 45.62 (27th) 45.5 (23rd) 45.5 (24rd)
GPG 3.09 (16th) 2.78 (27th) 3.14 (14th)
GAPG 3.82 (27th) 4.11 (30th) 3.62 (28th)
PP% 29.6 (6th) 0.0 (32nd) 18.64 (24th)
PK% 76.7 (19th) 82.76 (9th) 78.57 (20th)

So, let’s start with the good news: after a month without a power play goal, not only did we score some power play goals...the power play might actually be good now? They scored eight goals with the man advantage in 11 games. Is the scoring led by Johnny Gaudreau or Patrick Laine? No. You’ve got Boone Jenner with three and Kent Johnson with two. Sure!

Overall scoring improved from bad to mediocre and the goaltending got a little better, but the underlying numbers are still pretty awful to look at.

THREE STARS

Third Star: Sean Kuraly

The hometown product got hurt in Tampere and missed a few games, but upon his return had a hot streak of five points in four games. For the month he finished with five goals and six points in nine games. His line with Eric Robinson and Mathieu Olivier (and sometimes Liam Foudy) has earned Brad Larsen’s trust and are often the second most used line each game. Is this too much? Almost certainly! But with the way Kuraly hustles and has been shooting, it’s hard to say he doesn’t deserve it.

Second Star: Boone Jenner

Speaking of surprisingly good centers, The Captain went from just four points in October to 11 in November, including a team-leading eight goals. He’s still not the ideal top line center in my opinion, but game to game he finds ways to put up points.

First Star: Johnny Gaudreau

So it turns out the guy making $9.75 million is pretty good, huh? Johnny Hockey remains a point per game player with 22 points in 21 games on the season. In November, he had three goals and 11 assists in 11 games. Five of those helpers came on the new and improved power play. He’s the best player on the team by far and he makes his linemates better when they’re on the ice.

NEEDS IMPROVEMENT

Injuries

This is the big story of the month, as it feels like the 2014-15 season all over again. It seemed like shades of December 2019 as well, where a different player got hurt every game but the team kept collecting points. That team got great defense and goaltending and, uh, that’s not happening here.

The biggest blow is a season-ending shoulder injury to Zach Werenski. Justin Danforth and Jake Bean (not confirmed, but most likely) will also miss the rest of the season with their own shoulder issues. Jake Voracek is out indefinitely with an “upper body” (read: concussion). Patrik Laine is out for the second time this season, this time with a sprained ankle. Nick Blankenburg broke his, while Adam Boqvist broke his foot. All three could return in December, as could Elvis Merzlikins after a hip injury.

Deployment

All of those injuries have created opportunities for call-ups from Cleveland, but few have been put in a position to succeed. Emil Bemstrom got to take Laine’s place on the top line and put up a respectable four points in seven games, then was sent back down. Kent Johnson and Yegor Chinakhov are among the top point producers on the team, but each averages less than 14 minutes per game.

Young Centers

Can I put out an APB for Jack Roslovic and Cole Sillinger? Silly scored just three points on the month, while Roslovic scored only a single assist and found himself as a healthy scratch for a couple of games (and missed another to illness). On a good team, Jenner and Kuraly wouldn’t be 1C and 2C, but they earn the minutes because Roslovic and Sillinger haven’t made their case for those roles.

Roslovic is especially curious because he has worked to improve his faceoff percentage, and he’s a solid penalty killer. But on 5v5 he’s often invisible. He seems to play best when he’s with Kent Johnson, but it would be nice for Roslovic to not need that safety blanket.