Well that was a game, wasn’t it? It had a little bit of everything and by everything I mean every possible way to score happened: short-handed goal, power play goal, penalty shot, shootout, regulation goal…and then you add in one almost line brawl and a quite a few scuffles, 55 hits between two teams and a first period that pretty much had your head spinning and you have one enjoyable night of hockey (did I mention the Jackets now have 6 wins in a row?). The Jackets were able to hammer out a win against the team that eliminated them from last year’s playoffs and ensured that this season’s record against PIT will include at least one regular season win. BUT for the third time in a row, the Jackets beat a conference opponent WHILE giving them a point. That certainly makes a climb to a playoff spot that much more difficult and the push and pull between what this team can do and what if they get a top pick in the draft continues. Ah the drama. Let’s look at the three stars from last night’s game as named by NHL.com:
Ahhhh the soothing feeling of watching an actual NHL hockey team play. I missed last nights win over Philly, so I can’t comment on it but this was the first game in a while that featured an actual NHL cast of characters wearing CBJ uniforms. This led to a strong effort, one of the more complete games the team has put together all season, against a pretty good San Jose Sharks team. Antti Niemi was solid in the loss for the Sharks, but the Jackets were able to beat him twice, and grind out a much needed back-to-back win. Those two points are huge, as they bring the Jackets only five points back of the Devils for third in the division (with a game in hand). That is probably their only road to the playoffs (the last wild card spot currently is seven points out of reach). I know it seems early to be looking that far ahead, but these wins really help in terms of digging out of the hole from the last month. On to the stars!
3rd Star: David Savard
With Fedor Tyutin on injured reserve, the Jackets leaned heavily on Savard on the penalty kill, as he led the Jackets defense with 3:10 shorthanded time on ice, as the CBJ blanked the Sharks potent powerplay. Of course, the reason he received a star was his goal in the opening frame, as he finished off some nice puck movement from Artem Anisimov‘s line, burying on the screened Niemi. The early goal gave the Jackets a lead they would never relinquish.
Well that game was basically a moral victory. The Jackets lost 3-2, and took zero points home, but they played hard, never gave up, and were in it right up until the last seconds. The Jackets ended up outshooting the Devils 34-29, and the possession stats can go either way, as the Devils had a slight edge in Corsi, while the Jackets had a slight edge in Fenwick (thanks to the CBJ blocking 15 Devil’s shots). Anton Forsberg was very solid in his first start, with two goals coming on screened shots, and one coming on a goal-mouth scramble. He gave them a chance to win, which is really all you can ask for from a rookie minor leaguer. In addition to Forsberg, I’d count another eight Jackets who could arguably be out of the lineup were the Jackets to actually be completely healthy. With all that considered, I’m pretty pleased with the effort the Jackets put forward tonight, the way they played the game (conservative, limit their own mistakes), and actually having a chance to win. Until they start getting some bodies back, I’m not expecting them to beat any decent team (and Jersey is decent), but would just like to see them make the games competitive..
3rd Star: Nick Foligno
What more can be said about Nick Foligno. I hate using words like manly and ballsy, as they are subtly ridiculously sexist. I’m having trouble coming up with a better way to describe Foligno’s performance tonight though. I was really not expecting him to play this game, and he took a shot off the head as well, and no one would have blamed him for not coming back. Instead, he not only barely missed any time, he played 18:17 of solid hockey (fourth among CBJ forwards). I thought the Ryan Johansen, Cam Atkinson, Scott Hartnell line was fantastic tonight (combined 15 shots on goal), but Foligno was easily the best player other than them. Continue reading…
Welcome to the second Goal Breakdown of the season. I mentioned it at the top of the last post, but I will do it again here. This year I will be putting out a Goal Breakdown every Wednesday night, generally featuring one goal for the Jackets and one goal against, that will go through the nitty gritty of what made that goal happen for the Jackets (good or bad). Last week’s Goal Breakdown post featured Cam Atkinson‘s goal against the Sabres, and Rick Nash’s goal during the Rangers game. This week will see a slight tweak, with all three goals against the Senators being quickly discussed, and a deeper look at Ryan Johansen‘s goal versus the Flames. Continue reading…
Welcome to the initial Goal Breakdown for the 2014-15 Blue Jackets season. If you are here, you’ve probably seen one of these posts in the past. If you haven’t seen one before, then welcome, and enjoy. I’m going to be doing these a little different this year than in the past, with a new Goal Breakdown being posted every Wednesday (give or take). They won’t be game specific, but will usually feature one goal scored by the CBJ, and one scored against them. I will tend to focus on what the Blue Jackets are doing (or not doing) that led to the goal being scored, usually beyond the obvious “the goalie didn’t stop it”. I will mostly use goals from the previous week, but will look at older goals if anyone has a question about how any goal happened. If you have a request, you hit me up on Twitter @TheCoachUB. I don’t tweet much, but if you mention me I will probably see it eventually. Today’s post will feature Cam Atkinson‘s powerplay goal versus Buffalo, and Rick Nash’s goal late in the game versus the Rangers.
OK, is there a better team to host for the home opener than the New York Rangers? These games are becoming absolute gems where both teams play hard, things often get a bit nasty and you know that anyone could be the hero of the night. Fans who packed the Arena District this Saturday night were rewarded with not only a CBJ win over a division rival but an absolute heckuva game. Let’s get into who the NHL picked as the 3 stars and who could be perceived as the studs and duds.
Well friends, it’s hockey season. Welcome back to the crazy 82 game ride. Luckily, the Jackets started on an up note. Buffalo, a team that finished in last place last season, wasn’t exactly an intimidating opponent and arguably a welcome first opponent for a very different looking Jackets roster than a lot of fans expected. Nonetheless, the team suited up, with newly returned Ryan Johansen and three rookies suited up to beat the Sabres 3-1.
If you’ve not been with the Union Blue for these recaps in the past, a quick primer. Every game we look at the three stars as named on NHL.com and let you know if we agree or disagree. We then name one “stud” and one “dud” from the game and wrap it all up with a glorious piece of art from the famous @RockmanHalo. So let’s get to it…
Welcome to the Salary Project Part 2. If you missed Part 1, you can find it here. The Salary Project is a look at the entire CBJ roster, using an arbitration-style analysis to figure out who their closest comparable players are around the league, how much those players make, and how much to expect on a player’s next contract and/or if they are providing good value on their current contract. This is done through using filters on the entire NHL. We are looking at forwards again this week, so we eliminate all defensemen, all players more than two years apart in age, then break down goals, assists, and special teams time on ice by a percentage filter. Generally, it’s players within 15% of the goals and assists, and 25% of time on ice stats, however there are occasionally exceptions,which are noted, and only when there are not enough players in the standard filter to get a good idea of value. Part 1 covered Cam Atkinson, Matt Calvert, and Brandon Dubinsky. Up today are Nick Foligno, Scott Hartnell, and Ryan Johansen. Let’s get to it.
Ahhhhh the doldrums of the offseason. With one major exception, everything in CBJ-Land is settled for the coming year. Even considering Ryan Johansen‘s lack of a contract, we still have a very good idea of what the Blue Jackets roster will look like for the coming year. The exact lines and defense pairings are still up in the air, but we can deal with that closer to when we actually get to see them. Right now there is one thing (almost) going on in the NHL: arbitration hearings. I say almost, as hearings basically NEVER happen anymore, with all the scheduled hearings getting canceled so far after the players and teams have come to agreements. However, I know a thing or two about arbitration in the NHL, having penned this article at the Score, this MUCH longer in-depth paper, as well as first hand experience working on NHL arbitration cases. I figured I’d take the arbitration approach to the current Blue Jackets roster. By looking at what players around the league would be comparable to the current CBJ roster based on their current seasons, we can see if their salaries (and by salaries I mean cap hits) are commensurate with what they contributed last season.
So how did I do this? Well I used a 15% filter (with exceptions noted) for goals and assists, a 25% filter for time on ice, a plus/minus two years in age filter, and of course a positional filter (although all forwards are lumped together). Those sets were used for every player, with a 25% filter for special teams play for players that warranted it. This was done over the last two seasons to find a group of five to ten players who best matched the CBJ player in question. Players on entry-level deals weren’t considered, as their contracts are not merit based (at least not NHL merit). I then looked over the resulting list and figured out where the CBJ player fit. That gives us a nice little range for what each player should be paid based on their market value (from last season), how they compare to players of similar ilk, and what kind of contract to expect for each player moving forward. For today’s post I’ll be taking a look at Cam Atkinson, Matt Calvert, and Brandon Dubinsky. Why didn’t I start with Ryan Johansen? Well the outrage from some mainstream media folks over the Dubinsky project is what initially led me to this idea, I wanted to do them by lines (more or less), and I can only do so much in one post (these are VERY research intensive). Don’t worry, Johansen will be in part two. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
WOWY. Also known as With Or Without You. It’s not just a U2 love song, in fact it’s a pretty useful tool for looking at how players perform with certain teammates, what players are driving their lines, which ones are dragging their lines down, and which combinations seem to work at bringing the best out of each other. The basic data came from Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com, and boy do they have a lot of data. Within those pages you can find WOWY details for pretty much every player over the last few seasons, combined seasons, when the score is close, and much more. For this post, I used 5v5 data from the 2013-14 season only (to keep the sample size as large as possible). So I took all that information, and made a nice big fancy chart. It shows the Corsi percentage that each player is better (or worse) with each player. So the corresponding space in the chart of Johansen With (along the top of the chart) and Foligno (on the left side of the chart) shows the difference between Ryan Johansen‘s Corsi For % with Nick Foligno, and Johansen’s Corsi For % away from Foligno. Got it? Good. Let’s take a look at the chart, then go over a few things that need to be considered. After that is the good stuff: the players who come out best (and worst) in this analysis, the best combinations of players, and various ideal/terrible/etc. lineups.