Boom vs. Bust - Ryan Johansen and Boone Jenner

As the preseason draws to a close, Boone Jenner's star is rising among fans, while Ryan Johansen's seems to be dipping. But when you look at the numbers, things get a little more complicated.

Listen to a Blue Jackets fan since training camp began, and you probably hear the name Boone Jenner quite a bit. There's good reason behind that - he's impressed coaches, media, and fans with his "No quit" style, hard work, and surprising early chemistry with Brandon Dubinsky and Marian Gaborik.

At the same time, you may also be hearing about Ryan Johansen, but the news hasn't been quite so rosy. Haunted by the spectre of his AHL flameout in Springfield, many fans have been wondering about his attitude and commitment, and a relative lack of offensive production in the exhibition games hasn't helped matters.

Out of curiosity, I decided to take a look at how they're playing on paper. I've been on the road quite a bit with my job, so I've mostly been hearing games on the radio, which makes it difficult to judge. I've gotten a few looks, and the commentary on twitter from people at the arena is always interesting, but sometimes it's good to just strip things down to the raw data.

























In a blind taste test, which player do you think has more NHL experience? Probably the top one?

That's Jenner.

Johansen, though, isn't so far off. In fact, despite his "slump", he's actually tied for 5th in team exhibition scoring with Mark Letestu and James Wisniewski, who have almost identical stat lines. Haven't heard many complaints about their showings.

The problem that I can see from this is pretty basic - Johansen isn't shooting enough. His 8 SOG in 5 games is lower than we'd like to see, for sure, but it also means he's got a 25% shooting percentage at the moment, so that's kind of awesome.

Johansen has generally been paired with Umberger and / or Foligno, who have also been pretty underwhelming so far, while Jenner has basically been the 17 year old kid who was handed the keys to Dad's Ferrari. (Well, ok, maybe more like a Maserati, but still.)

Jenner's also new, and we've been hearing about his excellent qualities for quite some time. I think he's actually a very impressive player, but it's fair to point out that we've only heard the positives about him and how he plays, while we've seen an unfiltered look at Johansen, and that's going to color what people see out of his performance.

Fans want to see Johansen as the future #1 C, and certainly would like to see him rise up and challenge Artem Anisimov for the #2 job this season. (AA, by the way? 5 GP, 1 goal, 0 assists, 6 SOG.) Even though he's been respectable, he doesn't seem to be overtaking. He isn't making a big splash, and because of the past issues we tend to think that means he's not performing. The reality is that he's making a decent performance out of what he's been given. I think it certainly would be good to see him take it up a notch, but I'd say the fear that the Johan is playing his way out of the NHL is premature at this point.

The bigger issue that this highlights is that the team isn't putting the puck on net the way they really need to. Outside of the top line (Dubi = 17 SOG, Jenner = 16 SOG, Gaborik = 12 SOG), only Letestu (11 SOG), Cam Atkinson (12) and Wiz (11) are in double digits for the preseason, despite almost every "veteran" appearing in at least four preseason games. (Foligno, in fact, has appeared in SIX, and has just two shots and a pair of assists to show for it.)

If the pucks ht the net, the scoring will come. When the scoring comes, everyone will feel a bit more comfortable pushing the tempo of the game, and that almost always leads to more goals and more confidence. With that confidence comes stronger overall performances, and I have a feeling that Johansen in particular is a guy who will benefit from that.

Once the team makes their final cuts and prepares for the last week of camp before October 4th, I'd say that, more than anything else, has to be the focus. The Eastern Conference is a league where defense can get you to the playoffs, but you need goal scoring to make traction.

It's a big adjustment to make. It's hard to get out of habits ingrained over the course of several years. But the rest of the Metropolitan Division isn't going to sit back and let them figure it out in their own time.

Jenner's leading the way, perhaps because he doesn't have so much to unlearn, but Johansen isn't so far behind him.

It's their teammates who have to get themselves into line.

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