Cannonball: Corsi Be Damned

Tortorella hates corsi. Everyone has reported on it because if our record was reflective of our corsi average, it would look a lot more like last year’s record. Today, Down Goes Brown (on THN.com), lists us as a confusing team that is punching above its weight, but will come crashing to earth soon enough. I disagree. No, I strenuously disagree.

The NHL season is a long winding road, where to find success some things have to bounce your way. You can’t have key personnel constantly injured, you have to find a way to get a point on nights where it just isn’t going your way, and your players have to somewhat ham & egg it through the season to keep the wins coming. We are ham and egging it right now and winning games in the part of the schedule where we weren’t supposed to. That’s why this is so exciting. Boone Jenner, Scott Hartnell and Brandon Dubinsky have been mostly invisible. Ryan Murray has been really inconsistent. Saad was preordained as our goal leader, but has not taken up that mantle as of yet. BUT, Wennberg is tied for 2nd in the entire NHL with 13 assists, Foligno not far behind with 10 assists. Anderson and Gagner have both been big contributors (Anderson is 5th in the NHL with a 26.3% shooting average) and  Zach Werenski has been as advertised (not typical for us CBJ faithful). Prior to his injury Seth Jones was making it known that he belonged on that top pairing.

When Seth Jones got hurt, I thought we might be in for a rough stretch as he has been an integral part of our early success. It hasn’t been the case thus far. We definitely miss him, and are a better team with him, but we have still managed to find a way to continue to pick up points.

Our special teams continue to be special (Atkinson is tied 6th in the NHL with 4 power play goals), although our power play has diminished over the last few contests, and we still have yet to give up (or get for that matter) a short-handed goal to our opponents. The kill has been especially noteworthy and for the first time that I can remember as a fan, it doesn’t feel like taking a penalty is automatically giving up a goal or when we don’t give up a goal on the kill that there should be some type of special in arena giveaway.

Look, it doesn’t hurt that teams have been starting their reserve goalies when facing us. It doesn’t hurt that teams we have played have had key injuries when we faced them (hello, upcoming Steven Stamkos-less games), but we have beaten quality teams both home and away and won the first of many upcoming tough divisional games in what might be the toughest division in the NHL.

Next week will be telling with five games in a seven day span, and hopefully then others will begin to see that this team has the ability to be better than they are now – but continue to find ways to win.

Last time I checked they don’t determine the playoffs by corsi score, and everything I have ever read about corsi points to it not even being relevant until the home stretch of the season (even then, mostly as a signal that a team is getting hot at the right time). Early season, just win baby. The Jackets are doing just that and will continue to get better along the way.

Let’s Go Jackets. See you in the playoffs.

 

Cannonball: Jones Out & the Captain leads the way

Damn it Jonesy

Arguably our best overall defender, Seth Jones, is officially on IR for at least the next three weeks with a hairline fracture in his foot. Jones has led the team in ice time with an average of 24:14 per game. His presence is going to be missed dearly. Statistically he has been more than solid. With three goals and three assists, all at even strength though he had a game winning goal in OT, he is currently tied for seventh on the team in total points (6) with Josh Anderson. He is also tied for first, with Jack Johnson, in blocked shots at 21 and is sixth on the team in hits (14). With Jones out, it most likely means that Dalton Prout draws in on the last pairing and Murray gets pushed up to the top pair with Werenski.

I’m the Captain Now

Through the first ten games of last year’s dreadful season Nick Foligno had one goal, four assists, and a +/- of -9. Compare that to this year where Captain Foligno has four goals, eight assists, and a +/- of +4. Not only is he currently tied as the points leader for the Jackets (tied with Wennberg, 12 points), but he also has finally embraced the role of Captain by leading by example on the ice. On two separate occasions where the team could not seem to get the motor running, Foligno dropped the mitts and kick started the team into gear. He seems loose, has been fantastic  getting possession on the boards and through his play (rather than his words) has lead the team to a start that has the city of Columbus paying attention. May he keeping giving Bobrovsky that post game hug more often than not.

 

BOF Report: The Weekend Circus (W,OTL)

Basically:

Friday night against Montreal, I game that I was in attendance for, 10-0 Jackets. Saturday an overtime loss to St Louis. In both cases, most coverage outside of Columbus was more along the lines of how the other team played so poorly, rather than the Jackets playing well. Montreal was perfection. Everything went our way, Anderson’s backhanded flip into the goal was far and away my favorite moment, and Carey Price was on the sidelines. St. Louis was a little bit of back and forth (with plenty of sloppy play) but felt like it could fall to the Jackets in overtime after we possessed the puck to start OT for a looooong time. When Tarasenko made the move around Saad, it was over before he ever took the shot. McIllhinney was fantastic, Dubinsky continued to be MIA, and Jones (now out for three weeks with a fracture) continues to show just how high his ceiling might be.

The Overreaction:

5-3-2! 5-3-2! We are making the playoffs. Go ahead and have the shirts made. I don’t care if the Rangers, Capitals, and Penguins are the best three teams in the entire league right now (and all in the Metro) we are making the damn playoffs! Look at this start!

Final Thought:

Wennberg is looking like the player everyone thought he could be. Werenski is going to be an absolute stud. Jones gets better every week. The beginning of this season finally gives me hope that our young talent will pan out. It helps that Bob (and Mac against St Louis) are playing exceptionally well, but we have a strength in special teams to build off of and our 5 v 5 seems to be improving with each game. If our typically dependable players (looking at you Dubi and Boone) get going, it is going to be a really fun season.

Point Scorers for CBJ (St. Louis game only):

Goals: Anderson

Assists: n/a

Cannonball: Six games until first divisional play

Stars in Columbus

After starting 3-3-1 (7 points), the Jackets begin a busy November that includes four back to backs and their first three games against two divisional opponents (New York Rangers/Washington Capitals x 2). Tonight the Dallas Stars come to Nationwide looking to avenge the 3-0 shutout delivered to them in Dallas. Bobrovsky starts again in goal (he will have to rest at some point) and holds an 8-1-1 record against the Stars. The first match-up saw a goal from a pass off a linesman, Bobrovsky stonewall a flurry of shots in the second period after we returned to turning the puck over in our own zone, and the first game where the Jackets played all but 5-7 minutes consistently and well.

Dallas has the ability to to turn up the heat quickly with Seguin and Jamie Benn bringing both speed and scoring ability. Benn was out of the first meeting for a brief time taking a five minute penalty after mixing it up with Brandon Dubinsky. Murray returns to the lineup scratching Dalton Prout (who has been more of a liability than normal lately) and Dubinsky is clean shaven in an attempt to make any change that gets his offense going.

The penalty kill was a big part of the last game for both clubs, with the Jackets shutting down 5(!) power play attempts to Dallas wiping out two of the Blue Jackets advantages.

A tough schedule lies ahead, these early season points prior to metro play, seem more important than normal.

The Eye Test

An observation. In the games that we have won, we have done a much better job taking the puck off of the wall and possessing it down the ice. In the games that we have lost, it looks like we are simply whacking at the puck hoping for something positive to come about.

Possession crossing both blue lines is something that I believe separates the elite teams from the middling ones. If you want to have good offensive chances, the puck has to be on your stick. Dump and chase has never been our strongest suit.

The Excitement is Back!

After the 0-2 start, it seemed like it was going to be a glum task doing this writing challenge for the entire season. The last four games however, we have looked way more like a team that can compete in every game going forward. Seeing Foligno start well carries over to the rest of the guys, Bob is doing Bob things (the good kind), and Saad seems to finally be finding himself again in the early going. The young guys are hard to miss. Anderson and Werenski both are making names for themselves in Columbus (Werenski outside of Cbus too) and Seth Jones has a crazy high ceiling.

The excitement is back. Let’s Defend Nationwide. Let’s Go Jackets.

 

BOF report: 10/22 @Stars (W 3-0)

Basically:

I am not going to lie. Starting with two losses and about to face two of the better teams in the western conference did not give me a lot to be excited about. Then we took back to back W’s against Chicago and Dallas. There is work to be done for sure, each game has seen long stretches in our own zone whereby you get the feeling that we are living on borrowed time, but a shutout win in Dallas was a great feeling. Also have to feel good about the production of both Anderson and Werenski who have 7 points between them in four games (Anderson 2, Werenski 5). The Captain Nick Foligno has four points equaling 10.8% of his point total for the SEASON in 15-16.

The Overreaction:

We beat two playoff teams, lost to a Stanley Cup finalist and to a Boston team that is surging out of the gate. Werenski is on pace for 102 points! Just starting engraving his name on the Calder Trophy now.

Final Thought:

Sergei Bobrovsky has looked great in the first four games. In the losses he didn’t get any favors from the guys in front of him and even with the Boston scoring fest he is boasting a .935 save average through four games while taking an average of 32.5 shots per game. I know that we are only four games into the season, but with a least a game in hand on every other team in the metro division that Jackets have stayed in the mix early. Typically that wouldn’t be worth noting, but after last year’s start I like the idea that we can still aspire for the playoffs after the third week of the season. We have to get better in the faceoff circle.

Point Scorers for CBJ:

Goals: Anderson, Calvert (EN), Hartnell

Assists: Dubinsky, Jenner, Jones, Karlsson, Werenski

 

BOF Report: 10/13 Bruins (L 6-3)

Basically:

I said it in my game primer for opening night. The Boston Bruins have a top line that you must survive to win. Marchand had a career-high five points. Their top line scored ALL of their goals.

The first two periods were fun for the Blue Jackets, but they weren’t pretty. Sloppy play and carelessness with the puck was the CBJ theme of the night. There isn’t one place to put the blame, but our top line got demolished by the Bruins first line. It is only the first game, but you couldn’t help but make a deep sigh when leaving the arena last night.

The Overreaction:

Second verse, same as the first. Are you kidding me?!? Boston was down one of their best players and outside of their first line are garbage. Season’s over. Another 12 months of talking about development and keeping the long view. I have had the longview since 2003. Stop telling me to be patient and win some damn hockey games. Middle fingers to everyone, back to Buckeyes football.

Final Thought:

No amount of skating hard, running laps, or workouts fixes our inability to competently transition from defense to offense out of our own zone. Was our biggest issue last year. Apparently

CBJ Point scorers against Boston:

Wennberg – 1G 1A

Jones – 1G 1A

Atkinson – 1G

Werenski – 1A

Saad – 1A

Foligno- 2A

The list: Preseason Edition

Periodically, I intend to post a list akin to a high school year book (think “most likely to _____”). It’s for fun, try to remember that.

Most likely to have a breakout season: Alexander Wennberg

Player I would most like to have a beer with: Scott Hartnell

Biggest surprise of the season: Bobrovsky is healthy for the entire ’16-’17 season

Most likely to throw all of the sticks on the bench onto the ice in pregame: TIE Brandon Dubinsky/John Tortorella

Best hair: William Karlsson

Player that is not allowed to meet my wife: Alexander Wennberg

First player to take penalty minutes: Boone Jenner (it’s a positive, he plays aggressive)

Player I would let babysit my children: Nick Foligno

Player I would definitely not let babysit my children: Cam Atkinson (no more pets)

Biggest impact in first 13 games: Sergei Bobrovsky

First CBJ player to drop the mitts this season: Dalton Prout (who else?)

Most likely All-Star game selection: Brandon Saad

Surprise All-Star game selection: Seth Jones

Name that isn’t household yet, but will be: Zach Werenski