Cannonball: Preview of the Predators

Tomorrow the Jackets travel to music city to visit Ryan Johansen and the Nashville Predators (6-3-1 in last 10). The Jackets have hit a bit of a skid as of late (5-5-0 in last 10) and have not looked good even in the games we have won as of late. With all-star weekend providing a much needed break to most of the team (except for Jones, Bobrovsky, and hopefully Atkinson now that Malkin is out) which may be just what they need. Not to sound like a grade school coach, but it just doesn’t look like they are having much fun out there right now.

The last three meetings between the Predators and Jackets have not been all that exciting with Nashville taking two out of three games played and all three were won by four goals. Both teams enter this game with a new marquee defender on the roster Nashville via trade (Weber for Subban) and the Jackets via draft (Werenski) and both enter Thursday sporting injuries on defense (Josi for NSH, Savard and Nutivaara for CBJ – Savard may be available).

Here is a quick team stats comparison:

Offense Ranking:   CBJ: 3rd  NSH: 12th

Defense Ranking: CBJ: 4th  NSH: 10th

Power play ranking: CBJ: 1st  NSH: 16th

Penalty Kill Ranking: CBJ: 8th  NSH:10th

Goals per Game AVG: CBJ: 3.30  NSH: 2.75

Goals Against AVG: CBJ: 2.32  NSH: 2.52

PIM per Game: CBJ: 9.1  NSH: 9.8

Shot Differential per Game: CBJ: .32  NSH: .92

Player Highlight:

For the CBJ Cam Atkinson just keeps scoring goals (second in the NHL only to some guy named Crosby) and has done so in the last two games even with being taken off the NHL’s #1 power play unit.

For NSH while former Jacket Ryan Johansen leads the club in points (36), Filip Forsberg has been coming on over the course of the last 15 days after a tumultuous start to the season. He is currently 15-17-32 with a -4 +/-.

Game Insight:

The current question is who will start in goal for the CBJ? Korpisalo has not been strong in his last full showing giving up six in a win against Ottawa (though he did stop the bleeding against NYI once Bobrovsky was pulled after giving up four), and Bobrovsky is coming off a game in which he was pulled (his third this season, Boston, Washington, New York Islanders). Bobrovsky has been the winning goalie in each start following being pulled thus far this season. With Bob’s selection as an all-star, I have to believe he starts against Nashville and then sits against the Rangers immediately following the all-star break. If Bob is in, we most likely win – rhyme optional.

Our vets have to get going. Brandon Saad is on a cold streak that has to end (right?), Dubinsky has been strong in the faceoff circle but only possesses a 7.7% shooting percentage, and Boone Jenner has been invisible for the majority of games this season. On the young guy side of the roster, no one has emerged as dependable in the faceoff circle with both Karlsson (44.8% face off wins) and Wennberg (46% face off wins) continuing to struggle. Luckily, the predators face a similar issue with their 3rd and 4th line guys struggling to get the puck off the dot too (Ribeiro 41.2% and Sisson 48.9%).

For me, this game is less about the Predators and more about the Blue Jackets getting back to better play. Our ten game record does not accurately reflect how poorly we have been defending or that we have gone back to primarily dumpling and chasing rather than possessing into the offensive zone. This involves playing more than one period per game well. We will be a playoff team this year and we have to start gearing up for that level of play.

Worthless stat:

So far this season, Nashville wins 65% of its home games and Columbus wins 65% of its away games

Interesting stat:

The Blue Jackets currently have ZERO players that have played in 10 games or more with a negative +/-. Even lifting the 10 game criteria only two are negative (Milano -1, 2 GP and Bjorkstrand -1, 5GP).

Let’s Go Jackets!

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!!!

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: 10/15 Sharks (L 3-2)

Basically:

We looked frantic in the first, and for about half of the second, period(s) on the puck. Not only in our own zone, but also on offense. I like the idea of the Jackets playing fast, but being fast without control has never worked for anyone in any professional sport. We settled in towards the end of the game and had some chances that should have been converted (so did they) that could have made for different ending. Bobrovsky has looked good two games in and the great line shuffle to find cohesiveness in-game began. I don’t like that we are 0-2, but am not going all Michael Arace yet in exploring next year’s draft options.

The Overreaction:

Here we go again. Pack it in kids, eliminated from the playoffs before the end of freaking October. Our top line might not make have enough to play third line on some other clubs right now. We have to finish the easy looks. Anderson had one in the first period, Karlsson in the second. Stop thinking and put the puck in the net. Another thing. Don’t talk to me about conditioning ever again, conditioning has nothing to do with the ability to pass the puck from one Blue Jacket to another successfully. Can we also please never put Prout and Nutivaara on the same defensive pairing. That was hard to watch. Get it together!!!

Final Thought:

Bobrovsky had 35 saves for a .946 save percentage. He is doing his part, now we just need to get the offense rolling and that cannot be done if we cannot keep possession of the puck coming out of our own zone. Luckily, other than the Penguins, all other metro division teams have at least one loss or overtime loss so the hole is not as deep as it could be. Chicago comes to town on Friday, have to find a way into the win column.

Point Scorers for CBJ:

Goals: Anderson, Werenski

Assists: Atkinson, Hartnell, Wennberg

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

 

16-17 CBJ Preview: Show Me The Money

As you may have heard, the Blue Jackets are not going to have a whole lot of breathing room to stay under the salary cap which is expected to be around 73 million for the season. Rather than regale you with my limited knowledge of the intricacies of how each of our players contracts affects the cap, I thought I would show you what everybody is getting paid this year. If you really want to dive into it, I strongly suggest checking out CapFriendly.com. Below are only players currently on the CBJ roster (plus Werenski, he will be on the roster), so 3-4 more will be added prior to the opener – most likely all on entry level deals as no PTO’s (Professional Try Out) are currently projected to make the team.

Symbol Glossary:

* = Entry Level Contract

◊ = No Movement Clause

♠ = Two-way Contract

Forwards :

  • Brandon Saad
    • $5,750,000/ UFA in ’21-’22
  • Brandon Dubinsky (◊)
    • $5,850,000/UFA in ’21-’22
  • Nick Foligno (◊)
    • $5,500,000/UFA in ’21-’22
  • David Clarkson (◊)
    • $7,000,000/UFA in ’20-’21 (or two eternities from now)
  • Scott Hartnell (◊)
    • $5,000,000/UFA in ’19-’20
  • Cam Atkinson
    • $3,500,000/UFA in ’18-’19
  • Boone Jenner
    • $2,900,000/RFA in ’18-’19
  • Matt Calvert
    • $2,200,000/UFA in ’18-’19
  • Gregory Campbell
    • $1,300,000/UFA in ’17-’18
  • William Karlsson (♠)
    • $1,000,000/RFA in ’18-’19
  • Alexander Wennberg (*♠) [waivers exempt]
    • $925,000/RFA in ’17-’18
  • Sam Gagner
    • $625,000/UFA in ’17-’18

Defense:

  • Seth Jones
    • $5,400,000/UFA in ’22-’23
  • Jack Johnson
    • $5,000,000/UFA in ’18-’19
  • David Savard
    • $3,500,000/UFA in ’21-’22
  • Ryan Murray
    • $2,825,000/RFA in ’18-’19
  • Dalton Prout
    • $1,250,000/UFA in ’18-’19
  • Cody Goloubef
    • $800,000/UFA in ’17-’18
  • Zach Werenski (*♠)
    • $925,000/RFA in ’19-’20

Goalies:

  • Sergei Bobrovsky
    • $8,500,000/UFA in ’19-’20
  • Curtis McElhinney
    • $800,000/UFA in ’17-’18