In case you mentioned that at any level this season that the Columbus Blue Jackets’ defensive pairings could be Michael Del Zotto-Seth Jones, Vladislav Gavrikov-Dean Kukan, and Mikko Lehtonen-Scott Harrington, congratulations. In case you did, you may need to play the lottery and decide your individual numbers.
What was the deepest place and energy for the Blue Jackets previously few seasons has been decimated right into a place that head coach John Tortorella mentioned he’s rotating for the remainder of the season.
How the Blue Jackets Have Ended Up in This Place
The rationale the Blue Jackets have run into points on protection is straightforward – they misplaced a whole lot of expertise and ability.
Because the offseason, they’ve misplaced Ryan Murray, Markus Nutivaara, and David Savard to trades. They then misplaced Zach Werenski to harm earlier his season and once more to complete the season.
That may be a lack of 1,574 video games performed, 539 factors, 2,136 blocks (together with a franchise-record 958 for Savard), 412 takeaways, and 1,755 hits. Additionally it is a lack of a mixed plus/minus of plus-68.
That’s a whole lot of expertise, management, and ability for a staff to lose on protection. Additionally it is unimaginable to make up for that type of loss in only a season. The struggles from this example are apparent for the Blue Jackets.
The Impact on the Blue Jackets
Final season (2019-20), the Blue Jackets gave up 187 goals (common season), third-best within the NHL. In addition they had a goals-against common (GAA) of two.61, well below the league average (2.82). Their penalty kill share (PK%) was additionally 81.66%, about two factors above the league common.
This season they’re 28th (out of 31) with 145 goals against and have a GAA of three.23. That GAA is nicely larger than the league common (2.74). Their PK% has additionally dropped to 77.78%, practically 4 % decrease than final season in addition to two factors decrease than this season’s league common.
Columbus additionally went from 15.14 blocks per sport in 2019-20 to 14.32 this season, and their mixed plus/minus dropped from a minus-17 to minus-112. The purpose differential had a substantial drop off from minus-7 to minus-33.
Clearly, the lack of 4 defensemen within the final yr has been an excessive amount of for the Blue Jackets. The clear and alarming drop in lots of defensive statistics has been a serious difficulty this season and can play an enormous think about why they are going to be lacking the playoffs for the primary time in 4 seasons.
The Rise of Michael Del Zotto
Not all has been unhealthy for Columbus of their lack of protection. Michael Del Zotto has been the one vibrant spot. He was given a professional tryout offer (PTO), was believed to be a depth participant, and was signed on the league minimal.
Del Zotto ended up being a shock for the group. In 41 video games with the Blue Jackets, he has racked up 10 factors, a team-high plus/minus (plus-12), 40 blocks, and 96 hits.
For a participant who was signed off of a PTO to a minimal contract, Del Zotto has been an ideal piece for the staff. He was the one vibrant spot on a protection that was lackluster and increasing him have to be a precedence for Columbus this offseason.
The place Columbus Goes From Right here
With different points showing this season, corresponding to the shortage of a first-line middle, the Blue Jackets won’t be utilizing any items to commerce for protection.
Columbus has no selection however to be affected person, let a few of the younger protection, corresponding to Adam Clendening and Scott Harrington, slowly acquire in-game expertise and develop, together with attempting to increase Del Zotto.
It is going to be an extended and irritating course of, however the Blue Jackets do not need a lot of a selection.
My title is Cody Chalfan and I’m presently a pupil at Ohio State and I’m learning journalism. With my journalism diploma I hope to grow to be a full time sports activities author, hopefully masking Buckeye soccer and Blue Jackets hockey in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio.