Welcome to possible new feature here named after your favorite classic rock radio gimmick but has nothing to do with music. Here are two interesting-to-me topics, and maybe this will get me to post stuff with more regularity. Maybe. Oh, and this won’t always be about Columbus, but today part of it is. Ho hum. Let’s get going.
1. The Blue Jackets’ Scoring Woes Are the Problem. I know this isn’t surprising to you, but it’s interesting to see just how much the CBJ dip in scoring has also brought down their overall results. Last season, the Jackets had a pretty poor 2.42 goals per game, 26th in the NHL. This season (as of this writing), that has dropped down to 2.05 after 19 games, dead last.
Yes it’s only 19 games, but to appreciate just how drastic this has been, first consider the improved goal prevention, achieved primarily through improved shot prevention (goalie performance is about the same or slightly worse). Overall shots against per game are down from 30.9 per game to 28.8; 5-on-5 Corsi events against are down from 54.1 per 60 minutes to 49.3. These are good things, and has resulted in an improved team goals against, dropping from 3.15 per game to 2.90 per game. (You can check out more team stats at Hockey Analysis)
In that context, Columbus’ scoring ratio is somewhat jaw-dropping. It’s now 0.71 at 5-on-5 instead of last season’s 0.80. It’s a pretty big drop even though shot prevention has improved. This also explains the terribly low Fenwick %; it’s the offense that’s dragging.
Luckily those three first round picks should be able to help, especially the Blue Jackets’ own. You’ve seen this video with Jonathan Drouin, right? He’s doing alright at this hockey thing, and so is Nathan MacKinnon. They’d probably boost scoring pretty nicely.
2. John Tavares is a Probably Top 5 Center in the NHL and Has Been Since Last Season. For those not watching the Islanders (and who can blame you?), there’s this guy playing in New York who is probably the best player you’re not talking about. Today he’s getting some well-deserved praise on NHL.com (and that’s a worthwhile read so check it out), but the guy probably needs to be lauded more.
Since joining the league, he has the 9th most goals of any center (also good for 10th most points at his position). Impressive considering his “slow” first two seasons. Last year he turned into the 8th best point scorer in the league, and he’s crushing it again this season. Now he’s piling up the points again. But what makes him so valuable beyond pure counting stats is that he simply dominates his opposition.
Particularly this season, in which his shooting percentage is likely to drop from its current 17.1%, Tavares’ underlying performance is important. In ever single year (including this one), Tavares has been a very positive Corsi relative player, and is a pretty reliable faceoff option. Now you may argue (and rightfully so) that Tavares’ massive Corsi comes from a heavy offensive zone start percentage, but he’s crushing it much like the Sedins and Malkin when given scoring line responsibility (and his zone starts are slightly less advantageous while facing somewhat tougher competition). So when you’re talking about Crosby, Stamkos, and Malkin, you should probably also mention that guy with the Islanders.