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Stacking up the Jackets

How do individual Blue Jackets compare to the rest of the NHL?

Florida Panthers v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images

In this article we will be comparing individual Blue Jackets to others across the league through the first quarter of the season. To do this, we will compare players to those at the same position that have played at least 100 minutes at 5v5 this season. All stats will be at 5v5. For reference, there are 403 forwards, 221 defenseman, and 70 goalies that have played at least 100 minutes this season. We will pick and choose players from the top of each list and players at the bottom of each list from the Blue Jackets.

Format — Player Stat (place at position on team, place at position in NHL)

Let’s dive in.

Stats from NaturalStatTrick

Skaters

Expected Goals

The first category is expected goals for per 60 minutes played (xGF/60). This helps measure the overall offensive impact a player has while on the ice. At the top of the list for the Jackets is actually Bayreuther and Danforth, oddly enough.

Leading the league is Panther Matthew Tkachuk.

Gaudreau 2.86 (2nd, 115th)
Jenner 2.84 (3rd, 121st)
Werenski 2.75 (7th, 74th)
Peeke 2.58 (9th, 109th)
Chinakhov 1.86 (15th. 371st)
Voracek 1.8 (17th, 381st)
Gudbranson 1.71 (10th, 217th)

The inverse is expected goals against per 60 minutes played (xGA/60), which measures a players defensive impact while on the ice. Boqvist leads this category for the Jackets, although he has only played in four games. Interestingly enough, the other leaders are all hurt as well.

At the top of the league is Hurricane Jack Drury (who?), but Boston’s Bergeron is right behind him.

Laine 2.17 (1st, 63rd)
Blankenburg 2.21 (2nd, 37th)
Werenski 2.31 (3rd, 54th)
Robinson 3.02 (15th, 335th)
Gavrikov 3.08 (9th, 196th)
Gudbranson 3.24 (11th, 207th)
Roslovic 3.26 (17th, 378th)

Individual Scoring Chances

Here we will look at individual scoring chances for per 60 minutes played (iSCF/60). Essentially, how many scoring chances the individual player is creating.

Leading the league is Tage Thompson, who is having a great year for the Sabres.

Jenner 9.37 (1st, 81st)
Gaudreau 8.46 (2nd, 140th)
Sillinger 7.32 (5th, 210th)
Nyquist 5.80 (10th, 315th)
Blankenburg 4.74 (1st, 12th)
Bean 3.03 (4th, 92nd)

Unblocked Shot Attempts

Unblocked shot attempts for and against are shots that don’t necessarily get on net, but they are clean looks at the goal nonetheless. The stat below is the total percentage of unblocked shot attempts the team gets while the player is on the ice. This is also known as Fenwick (FF%) and is a measurement of possession at 5v5. At the top of the list once again is Boqvist, but we will leave him out because of his small sample size.

At the top of the league is another Hurricane, Derek Stepan.

Blankenburg 53.90 (2nd, 37th)
Laine 52.91 (1st, 111th)
Jenner 49.12 (2nd, 221st)
Christiansen 46.67 (5th, 160th)
Nyquist 45.47 (7th, 312th)
Roslovic 41.32 (16th, 382nd)
Gudbranson 36.78 (11th, 221st)

Goalies

Save Percentage

This is generally the most looked at stat when evaluating goalie performance. It goes from decent to very bad for the Jackets.

Akira Schmid from New Jersey, with only four games played, is out front of the league in this category with a whopping .967. Georgiev is in second.

Tarasov .918 (1st, 37th)
Korpisalo .906 (2nd, 50th)
Merzlikins .854 (3rd, 70th)

Goals Saved Above Average

This category shows the difference between the goalie’s goals against and the same number of shots seen with a league average save percentage (GSAA). Only one Columbus goalie is in the green, and barely. Those with a sensitive stomach should look away.

Hellebuyck is currently the league leader in this category.

Tarasov 0.36 (1st, 36th)
Korpisalo -2.30 (2nd, 52nd)
Merzlikins -12.47 (3rd, 70th)

Observations

The first thing that sticks out is that in most cases the top performers on the Blue Jackets aren’t even close to the top of the league. In addition, the worst performers on the team are also among the worst performers in the entire league. This makes sense because the Jackets are also at the bottom of the standings, but it also outlines the possibility that the problem isn’t necessarily the players themselves. When looking at these categories from a 30,000 foot view across the league, there are plenty of players on bad teams that are outperforming Columbus’ best players. To me, that raises questions about the coaching, system, and player utilization.

Roslovic and Gudbranson are having very bad seasons. They are both towards the bottom of the league in multiple categories. Say what you want about the eye test, stats that bad don’t lie.

It pains me to say this, but Merzlikins is statistically the worst goalie in the NHL this season. Here’s to hoping the team’s better defensive play lately will allow him to get his confidence back once he returns from injury.

The injuries the Jackets have suffered (and will continue to suffer) have hurt quite a bit. Blankenburg, Laine, and Werenski were all performing well before they got hurt. Thankfully, Blanks and Laine will eventually return to the lineup.

Blankenburg is good. It is no wonder why the team looked better with him in the lineup and why he quickly found himself on the first defensive pair.

What do you think? What storylines stand out the most from the stats above?