Particularly on Home Ice, the Power Play Continues To Be A Glaring Issue For the Blue Jackets

By Dan Dukart on December 20, 2018 at 10:39 am
The Blue Jackets top power play unit celebrates a goal against the Detroit Red Wings
Rick Osentoski – USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jackets power play is bad.

If you've been to Nationwide Arena this season, chances are that you probably already knew that. Through 18 home games this season, the Blue Jackets are tied for last in the NHL with just six power play goals on the season. Their 11.3% home ice power play rate is second-worst in the league, besting only the Montreal Canadiens (11.1%).

For reference, the league median scored 11 home power play goals and converted at just under a 20% clip. Heck, the Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals, and Winnipeg Jets are scoring on over 30% of their home power plays. For a team that's struggled to find consistency at home, imagine if the Blue Jackets had scored five more power play goals in those games. 

On the whole, their 15.1% power play percentage ranks 27th in the league. Coaches often talk about how you can gain momentum from a strong power play, even if you don't score, but the Blue Jackets don't fall into that category, either.

According to naturalstattrick, the Blue Jackets are dead last in the NHL in High-Danger Chances-For (HDCF), generating just 21 such chances in 97:39 of power play time at Nationwide Arena this season. To make matters even worse, the club is shooting just 8.33% on the power play at home, better than only the Canadiens (8.13%).

Twelve teams in the NHL have a higher shooting percentage at 5-on-5 than the Blue Jackets do with a man advantage. Yikes.

Regardless of who's coaching the power play units, at a certain point it falls on the players to execute. Their zone entry is stale, and, unlike other successful power plays, it's difficult to even see what their 'Plan A' looks like. While it may sound intuitive for teams to conceal their power play plans, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what the Capitals 'Plan A' (Alex Ovechkin one-timer) or 'Plan B' (low-high TJ Oshie one-timer).

It's fair to say that the Blue Jackets don't have the same high-end offensive firepower as their division rivals. However, many other NHL teams seem to manage just fine without a Hall Of Fame goal scorer at the top of the left face-off dot. 

This website has discussed strategies to fix the power play this season.

Having Seth Jones and Zach Werenski on separate units is nonsensical to me, and the only way it's possibly justifiable is if the power play is clicking. It's not. Play Werenski on the power play. Right now, Nick Foligno and Pierre-Luc Dubois are both on the top power play unit. Both are fine power play players, but they both fill the same role. Left-handed net-front player who won't be counted on to make the play, but finish it. Why have both of them on the same unit? 

The Blue Jackets are in this bizarre state where they continue to have (relative) success, despite not having a power play for huge stretches of time spanning multiple years.  For them to become a stronger team on home ice, an average power play would be a nice change of pace for a fan base that's grown apathetic to hearing Greg Murray declare: "Jackets...onnnnnnn the power playyyyyyyy."

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