Good Boys: Disciplined Nature of Blue Jackets Should Continue to Pay Big Dividends in Postseason

By Chris Pennington on April 20, 2019 at 10:15 am
The Columbus Blue Jackets were the second-least penalized team in the NHL in the 2018-2019 season.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Columbus Blue Jackets are, er, well behaved?

During the 2018-2019 regular season, the Blue Jackets were the second-least penalized team in the league. They clocked in at 6.2 penalty minutes per game, just barely being edged out by the Toronto Maple Leafs at 6.1 per game.

This discipline carried over to the first round of the playoffs, which worked out just fine since the Blue Jackets were taking on the Tampa Bay Lightning who had the league's best power play during the regular season.

How can you crack a team with a great power play? Don't give them any.

In the four-game series, the Blue Jackets had 35 penalty minutes to the Lightning's 56. With a differential of -21, this was the largest margin gap between any two first-round opponents.

Hell, in Game 3, the Blue Jackets didn't even commit a penalty.

For those who are from the Tampa Bay area, this was one of the headliner excuses as to why the Lightning dropped the series. But these numbers shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.

As mentioned, the Blue Jackets were one of the least penalized teams in the league this regular season. The Lightning, on the other hand, were the third-most penalized team in the league at 9.5 minutes per game.

The series then played out, and the Lightning didn't get as many man-advantage opportunities as they hoped. They had just six power plays over the course of the whole series, the least amongst any playoff team, and they only scored on one of those chances. The Blue Jackets had just ten opportunities (tied for second-least amongst playoff teams, by the way), but scored on five of their chances.

The Lightning's power play efficiency plummeting and the Blue Jackets' skyrocketing just as the playoffs started is certainly peculiar. Regardless of what caused this flip - the fact that the Blue Jackets limited Tampa Bay's power play opportunities certainly caused some distress to their gameplay. Their 74 power play goals led the league in the regular season, so it makes sense that they struggled to find their groove when they weren't on the power play much at all.

If the Blue Jackets can continue this disciplined style of hockey into the next round, they should find success. The Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs (the possible matchups for Columbus in Round 2) are both top-ten power play efficiency teams, and they will need to be given as few chances as possible to get their man-advantage rolling.