There were a number of people who thought the Columbus Blue Jackets would be better than the pundits expected when they said, less than a month ago, that Columbus would be near the bottom of the league.
But even they wouldn't have thought the youngest team in the league, with the youngest player in the league, with a brand new, first-time NHL coach (who, by the way, is the second youngest coach in the league behind Toronto's Sheldon Keefe), would have the ferocious start that the Blue Jackets have had.
Here are ten stats through ten games that show just how good Columbus' start to the 2021-22 season has been:
Prior to the beginning of the regular season, the Vegas oddsmakers put the over/under for the Blue Jackets season-end point total at 76.5. Through ten games, Columbus has 14 points. That's already 18% of the way towards that over/under, despite the fact that we're only 12% of the way through the season. If the Blue Jackets struggle from here out — say, a 28-37-7 finish — this hot start would still give them the over.
The seven wins to start the season ties the best start in franchise history through ten games. The last time they did it, to start the 2017-18 season, game #11 was a loss. The other time was in the 2007-08 season, where the 11th game was a shootout loss. If the Columbus Blue Jackets can win Friday, they'll officially have the best start in franchise history.
That's the difference between Elvis Merzlikins' actual goal against average (1.98), and his expected goals against average (3.08). It ranks second in the league amongst goalies with at least four games played, behind — how apropos — Sergei Bobrovsky.
#4: .889 & .857
Let's stick with the goalies for just a moment. Those are the save percentages of Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo, respectively, in the unblocked high danger shot category. In other words: the best scoring chances that the opposition has. Merzlikins' .889 leads the league, and Korpisalo's .857 is tied for third in the NHL. Don't underestimate these goalies when talking about why the Blue Jackets have had three consecutive come-from-behind victories.
Having offense helps with those victories, too, and the Blue Jackets are 10th in the league in average goals per game. They were 28th last season, 28th the season before, 12th in 2018-19 when they shocked the world and swept the Tampa Bay Lightning. Seeing Columbus on the leaderboard a month into the season is a refreshing sight.
Cole Sillinger has an expected goal total this season of 3.6, which trails only Oliver Bjorkstrand (4.1) and Boone Jenner (3.7). That's particularly awesome when you consider his age, sure, but also that he's played 43 minutes less than Bjorkstrand and over an hour less than Jenner on the season. He also has just 15.3% of his shifts starting in the offensive zone, which is 8th amongst forwards.
A little bit of love for Andrew Peeke. The young defenseman is tied for the team lead in blocked shots, with 19 in his 164 minutes played. That's a blocked shot every 8.6 minutes. That tie is with Vladislav Gavrikov, but Gavrikov has seen 214 minutes of ice time, an average of one block every 11.3 minutes.
Boone Jenner has a shooting percentage of 23.1%, better than twice his career average of 9.9%. Not enough time has passed by, you say? His six goals in ten games puts him just two behind his total of eight last season, when he played in 41 games. (He's also averaging a career-high 56.9% win rate at the face-off dot too, and is 9th in the league amongst players with at least 100 faceoff wins on the season.)
More than half of Columbus' wins — four of the seven — have come in overtime. That is the most overtime (or beyond) wins to start a season in team history.
Over the last five seasons, the final seed in the Stanley Cup playoffs, over an 82-game season, averaged 95.2 points. If the Blue Jackets can go 36-27-9 from here out — .500 hockey — that would give them 81 points in addition to the 14 they have now. That's 95 points, and that would make for one exciting spring.