Only four goals allowed in their last four games.
This is the defensive dominance that was almost expected for the Columbus Blue Jackets for stretches throughout this season, but has only been prominent as of late.
Before their game against the Los Angeles Kings on Dec. 13, the Jackets were allowing 3.4 goals per game and were in the mix of the bottom-ten teams in the league for goals allowed. And in the ten games leading up to that Kings matchup, they were letting in 3.9 per game.
This all to say, it's good to see in these past four games that Sergei Bobrovsky (.964 save percentage in that time) is shutting the door and the three defensive players are playing solid work as a whole, even with lapses at certain times.
"We have defended really, really well," said coach John Tortorella on Friday afternoon. "I just don't like some individual play at certain times."
While Tortorella is right that the play of certain defensemen has caused turnovers and odd-man rushes throughout the course of the season, his first point stands. The Blue Jackets are playing great defensive hockey as a team right now, especially in a time where their offensive output has cooled off a bit (only ten goals in their last six games).
So right on cue, the defensive play has stepped up. In their past three games, Columbus has averaged a 58.99 scoring chances for percentage (SCF%), including a 65.22 SCF% against the Anaheim Ducks on Dec. 15, their highest of the season.
They have also been averaging just 7.5 high-danger scoring chances against in the past four games, which is a number that the most elite defensive teams in the league are averaging on a nightly basis.
Clearly, then - there is work to still be done to make this new defensive play a staple and more consistent, but their next three games are all against Metropolitan Division opponents, who have struggled in the scoring department this season.
These three, the Philadelphia Flyers (21st in the league in scoring), the Devils again (T-23rd in the league in scoring) and the New York Rangers (T-23rd) may not be an intimidating group offensively, but if it can help improve the confidence of the Blue Jackets' defense, then let's bring them on and continue to grow, one game at a time.
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