Cannonball: Early Season Observations

As this is the first time I am doing this, from time to time I am going to write about what I am seeing (hopefully with some statistics to back it up) and these posts will be called the Cannonball. All opinions are my own, stats from Hockey-Reference.com and musing from other pundits (who I will credit)

Special Teams Looking Special

Our only allowed power play goal was an empty net goal versus the Sharks, placing our penalty kill percentage after five games at 94.12%. I credit the addition of Brad Shaw on this one, and I think we will continue to see success as the season goes on in this area. His PK in St. Louis was special (albeit he had more talent there) but the opportunism for short-handed goals has been a welcome development. If we begin to capitalize on these opportunities, we may become a very dangerous offensive PK unit.

Our power play is looking amazing thus far as well. We are 5-10 on PP opportunities and I didn’t realize how quickly we are scoring those goals until seeing Portzline’s tweet earlier today. All PP goals have been scored under 50 seconds and four of those goals were scored under 26 seconds into the power play. If you have been a fan as long as I have, then you have been in Nationwide as the boo-birds come out as we have held and passed the puck without taking any shots in the past. Welcome to the new world, way better than the old world. Also of note, Alexander Wennberg has racked up 4 assists on the PP unit thus far and I have been impressed with his presence thus far (he was may prediction for breakout player after-all) except for in the face off circle, which we will get to next.

On the dot, but off the mark

Our faceoff success continues to be lackluster. Given, the center position is probably biggest need for improvement but off all Jackets skaters who have taken ten or more faceoffs thus far – none are over 50% in success rate. Take a look below:

Dubinsky – 42 wins in 91 total faceoffs, 46.2%

Gagner – 11 wins in 24 total faceoffs, 45.8%

Karlsson – 32 wins in 55 total faceoffs, 49.2%

Wennberg – 31 wins in 71 total faceoffs, 43.7%

This eventually is going to bite us harder than the two losses we have taken. Statistically speaking, we do not have a go-to right now when the game is on the line. Dubinsky performed well last year (and I expect his numbers to improve), but on a team that already has possession issues – this is an area that stings.

Hopefully not a sign of things to come

Currently 11 CBJ members hold a negative +/- rating and only 5 possess a rating in the positive range. I would like to think that the team we have seen in the last three games is the team that will come out all season (these ratings in only five games are anchored down by the Boston walloping), but these numbers give me a bit of pause. Werenski (0 +/-), Wennberg (-1 +/-)and Foligno (0 +/-) lead the way with five points and while the rookie has been the story, you can’t be anything but happy to see the captain with a strong start after last years struggles. Saad broke through in the last game and look for him to add a few more points tonight and tomorrow.

Big back to back

With at least one game-in-hand on all of the other members of the metropolitan division, tonight’s game against the Sharks and tomorrow’s against the Ducks have a chance of putting us in divisional territory that has been unfamiliar the last couple of seasons. With a win tonight, we would be tied for third in the metro and with wins in both games we would be tied with Pittsburgh for second in the metro after 7 games (others still have there 7th game to play as well). I am cautiously optimistic. We seem to play well on west coast swings historically, and we are going to need to have a good standing as we start division play with the Capitals with the 14th game of the season.

While my game by game predictions have not been so hot thus far, my overall record of 8-4-1 in the first 13 is still alive.

Let’s Go Jackets!!!

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