Reviewing February 2023: Finally finding a way to win, way too late

But the tank carries on

Previously: October, November, December, January


L 0-3 vs. TOR
W 4-3 @ TOR
L 2-3 vs. NJD
W 3-1 vs. WPG
W 4-1 @ DAL
L 2-3 (OT) @ ARI
L 0-2 vs. MIN
W 6-5 vs. EDM
L 2-3 (OT) @ MIN
W 5-3 @ BUF

The Columbus Blue Jackets went 5-3-2 in the month of February. Hockey .500! Success! That includes 3-1-2 vs. the Western Conference, which is clearly the lesser of the conferences. The Jackets went 3-0-2 on the road, which was a major reversal over the record over the first four months. Just in time, too, as they have just three games in Nationwide in the month of March.


Still last place, and though the gap to Metro seventh-place Philadelphia is down to 10 points, it’s still a deep hole this late in the season. Philadelphia is that many points away from Buffalo and Florida.

In the more important race, for the best odds at the #1 pick this summer, the Jackets still are in the right spot despite their better play of late. They are a point behind (ahead?) of Anaheim and Chicago. Every team in the bottom seven has won four or five of their last ten games. We’ll see how the sell-offs in advance of the trade deadline alters that trend.


CBJ Stats Through February 2023

5v5 CF%46.36 (27th)45.41 (29th)46.53 (27th)44.21 (31st)46.6 (25th)45.5 (26th)
5v5 FF%46.65 (26th)45.00 (29th)45.90 (27th)44.91 (31st)46.3 (26th)45.1 (27th)
5v5 Save %94.01 (2nd)91.24 (16th)91.18 (21st)90.72 (26th)89.0 (30th)91.5 (26th)
5v5 Shooting %7.91 (24th)7.27 (26th)6.71 (25th)7.75 (18th)9.3 (6th)8.5 (8th)
5v5 xGF%46.92 (23rd)44.81 (28th)43.40 (27th)45.62 (27th)45.5 (23rd)45.5 (24rd)
GPG2.80 (25th)2.25 (30th)2.43 (28th)3.09 (16th)2.78 (27th)3.14 (14th)
GAPG2.70 (9th)3.75 (28th)3.64 (24th)3.82 (27th)4.11 (30th)3.62 (28th)
PP%18.5 (17th)18.0 (18th)16.3 (30th)29.6 (6th)0.0 (32nd)18.64 (24th)
PK%76.9 (23rd)72.9 (29th)78.0 (14th)76.7 (19th)82.76 (9th)78.57 (20th)

Improvement across the board, albeit mostly minor. The most glaring stat is how much the the goaltending improved.


Third Star: Jack Roslovic

Roslovic found a consistent spot on the second line — well, actually the third line once you consider how much time the Robinson/Kuraly/Olivier line got. In ten games, he put up seven points. He was also tied for the team lead with a +3 rating. It’s not as good as his performance last spring, but it’s better than what we’ve seen from him earlier in the season. He’s just 11 points away from tying the career high set last year. Playing with Patrik Laine and Kent Johnson seems to have clicked with him.

Second Star: Boone Jenner

The loss of the captain was felt greatly through the previous months. He led the team in goals (5), assists (5, tied with Roslovic and Laine), and points (10).

First Star: Joonas Korpisalo

Korpi started half of the games this month, and had a .933 save percentage and 2.43 GAA. He single-handedly kept this team in some games. Sadly, his time in a Blue Jackets uniform seems to be coming to an end. He was scratched for Tuesday’s game for trade related reasons, suggesting that a trade is imminent.

I have to own up to the fact that I was not in favor of re-signing Korpi this summer, and thought that he was going to be a waste of a roster spot if/when he recovered from his hip surgery. I’m happy to say I was wrong. He’s been the best goalie for Columbus this season, and rather than let him walk last summer, instead he’s part of a trade that brought us a first round pick and third round pick.

Honorable Mention: Elvis Merzlikins

Elvis’s play has drawn a lot of criticism, and raised doubts about his contract, with four more years at $5.4 million remaining. Would anyone be willing to take that contract? If not, how many starts do you give to someone that is overpaid?

Luckily it seems as though Elvis may have turned a corner. In five starts in February, he had a save percentage of .912 and a GAA of 2.93. Neither is a world-beating stat worth his salary, but they’re passable.


Jarmo Kekalainen

We covered it on the podcast this week: Jarmo Kekalainen appears to have bungled the trade of Vladislav Gavrikov. A deal was on the table with Boston, but he got caught flat-footed and allowed the Bruins the time they needed to shop for a better deal, which they got from Washington. Now there have been moves made by other teams like Toronto and Edmonton that need defensive help, leaving fewer candidates interested in Gavrikov. His price will go down, so even getting a first round pick seems unlikely.

It’s also a poor situation to put the player in. He’s a competitor and he wants to play. Instead, he has spent a full two weeks watching the team from the press box, and practicing with the extra skaters. I get that he and the team were at an impasse, but it shouldn’t result in this much waiting and uncertainty. No player deserves that, but certainly not one who is so beloved in the locker room and who has embraced being part of the Columbus community.

UPDATE: Ok, so I wrote all that last night, before the LA trade went down. I’m glad we got a good return for Gavy and Korpi, though it feels like the Korpi part may have done more heavy lifting. Plus you also get some bad vibes from trading two beloved, homegrown players and getting back a player in Jonathan Quick who is unhappy about the trade. It doesn’t really matter for the rest of this season, but I can’t imagine anyone involved is completely happy today.

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