The Columbus Blue Jackets have finally clawed their way into a playoff position after a few months of inconsistency. But even with the challenges presented by a plethora of injuries, the Blue Jackets have found their way back into the race.
While they've used a 12-2-4 run to make a rapid climb up the standings, there remains one difference between Columbus and the other playoff contenders: a disparity in offensive production. The Blue Jackets, despite their recent success, still aren't an offensive powerhouse and that can be seen in two different statistics.
The first is their number of goals scored per game compared to other playoff teams. Despite currently being in a playoff spot, the Blue Jackets sit 24th in the NHL in goals scored per game. While offense is only part of the equation for success (see: Florida leading the league in goals per game), the Blue Jackets are probably leaning too hard on their team defense to help them get by.
The second stat? Let's look at the Blue Jackets' leading scorer compared to other team leaders. Pierre-Luc Dubois currently leads the Blue Jackets in points with 34, a number that's third-lowest among playoff team leaders. Tied with Dubois are the point leaders for Detroit and Minnesota, Tyler Bertuzzi and Eric Staal, respectively, with Ottawa's former Blue Jacket Anthony Duclair taking second with 32 points and Kyle Palmieri of New Jersey leading the Devils with 31 points.
You may notice, one of these teams is not like the others.
Of the teams sporting the four lowest-scoring team leaders, Columbus is the only in a playoff spot. But, as mentioned above, the low-scoring approach hasn't yet affected the Blue Jackets' ability to capture points over the last month-plus.
Despite a shaky start to the season, both Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins have shown their ability to be NHL-caliber goalies, and both at times have looked spectacular. A hot goaltending streak often masks a lot of team deficiencies, of course, but the defense and goaltending have worked well in tandem after a shaky start.
Stout Defensive Play
The strength (often referred by John Tortorella as the "engine") of the team is the defense. This is a group lead by two future possible Norris candidates in Seth Jones and Zach Werenski, and anchored by mobile, stay-at-home defensive types like David Savard and Vladislav Gavrikov, and supported by other strong defensemen such as Markus Nutivaara and Ryan Murray (when healthy). When you're not scoring a ton of goals, having a deep and capable defense is a significant asset – and the Blue Jackets have it.