Looking backApril 8, 2006
It’s getting to that point in the season where the non-playoff teams look back and wonder what happened. For the Blue Jackets, there are a lot of things to ponder. What could have been? A quick glance states that maybe we’re not far off from where we should be (okay, maybe a little behind).
In his blog, James Mirtle uses the 95 point line as that which a team will need to reach in order to make the post-season. So many people involved with Blue Jackets media have stated how well the team has played since the return of Rick Nash from injury. While Nash was out with various leg injuries to start the season, the team was averaging 0.58 points per game. For those of you who are not big hockey fans, this refers to standing points, not goals scored. For each win (regulation/overtime/shootout), a hockey team receives two points; for each overtime or shootout loss, a team receives one point, and for a regulation loss there is the lovely zero. This runs out to about 48 points on the season. With Rick Nash returning on December 17, the Jackets have fared much better and are averaging 1.11 points per game. This projects to a 91 point season. Columbus fans would likely be ecstatic with such results. Obviously, Nash makes a big difference in how this team plays, but I would like readers to see beyond the initial results, and look at a few other statistics.
Looking at the season to date, the Jackets have amassed losing streaks of greater than four games five times. The Blue Jackets have only been able to win multiple games (two or more in a row) eight times all year. I would go so far as to define a winning streak as four wins or more (two shouldn’t be that hard, and three shouldn’t be unheard of). The team has only managed two all year. While Nash may drive the bus, the team as a whole has been maddeningly inconsistent. The team needs the younger players (Nash, Klesla, Leclaire, Denis) to step up and help this team be more consistent on the ice. Foote and Fedorov can only do so much. A level head and steady effort will do more than anything to improve this team. They have shown in their recent seven game point streak that they have the character and grit it takes, as they’ve come from behind in each of seven games to garner at least one point (including twice coming back from three goals down in Detroit). What needs to change is the attitude when the team loses a game or two.
Losses will happen in hockey. There has not been a perfect 82-0 season, yet. The Avalance, a team that will likely be somewhere between the fifth and eighth seed in the Western Conference (read: good enough to make it there, but not the best team in the league), have had only three losing streaks of three games each. No four plus streaks to be had. It’s the consistency that will get this team to the playoffs, and it’s consistency that the Columbus squad lacks.
If the team can make a 60 minute effort each night out, they will be competing against all teams in the NHL. The Jackets have the requisite skill to make the jump, but do they have the will? My next column will examine the potential roster for next season, and look at the pros and cons of each player going into the 2006-07 season.
I’d like to give a quick thanks to the website Abel to Yzerman for linking to my last story on my experience at Joe Louis Arena. I look forward to expanding my footprint in the hockey blogging world. Thanks again a2y!
Thanks for reading, come back soon. As always, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email.