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Colored lines… oooohhhhh…

November 30, 2007

I took a look at the most basic stat in hockey, goals for and against.  I wanted to see how the Jackets were doing on a rolling five game basis in each of these categories.  By this, I mean starting with game five on the schedule, for each game I went and calculated the average of the goals for and against for the previous five games (inclusive of that game number). 

I chose five because I think it’s a pretty fair number to use when dealing with the idea of momentum.  Any number much smaller, and you leave too much room for abberations (like 7 goals for against Chicago) to skew your data.  Any number much larger, and I think the trends smooth out too much.  So what did I find?  It’s not all that unexpected if you look at the difference in performance from October to November.  Click the chart below to see a larger, readable view.

Five game average after 25

(Click to enlarge)

A few things jump out at me when I look at this.  First are the most obvious things, that GF are trending slightly down and GA are trending up (a little more than slightly I might add).  The most recent data point for GF is below 2 for the first time this season.  The Jackets goose-egg against St. Luongo last night plays a part in this.  Anyone watching the CBJ regularly this season would not argue with the statement that scoring has looked harder to come by as the season has progressed.  Anecdotally and factually, this is true. 

What I’m not quite as worried about as maybe I should be is the GA trend.  After Game 13, the CBJ had allowed a ridiculously low 0.6 goals per game over their last five.  Two shutouts and three one-goal efforts will do that for you.  It’s also unrealistic to expect this on a nightly basis.  The cynic in me (oh heck, I’m all cynic some days) would say this is why they don’t award trophies until the season is actually done. 

There will be ups and downs each season for every organization.  This is inevitable, and each swing in itself should not be alarming.  But when trends become a consistent reality, this is when I’d chose to display confidence or despair as applicable to the situation.  On one hand, we’ve seen what the Jackets are capable of doing, and it’s pretty obvious that they’re not playing up to the standards they set.  On the other hand, maybe those first thirteen games were the abberation and we’re closely approaching a panic point.  Month number three of this NHL season should tell us if the rest of the season matters.  I know I’ll stick around to watch.

Thanks for stopping by the End of the Bench.  Come back soon.

– Drew

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