In Spite Of 1-4-2 November Stretch, There Are (Believe It Or Not) Encouraging Signs For The Blue Jackets

By Will Chase on November 15, 2023 at 10:15 am
Columbus Blue Jackets' Yegor Chinakhov celebrates his goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period at Nationwide Arena.
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

The Columbus Blue Jackets haven’t had a great start to the 2023-24 season.

However, there are encouraging signs from this group so far.

The Kids Are Alright

Adam Fantilli might just be the best player on the ice every single night for the club. He’s tied for the team lead in points (four goals, five assists) with nine alongside Boone Jenner (seven goals, two assists), Kirill Marchenko (four goals, five assists), Zach Werenski (one goal, eight assists), and Ivan Provorov (zero goals, nine assists). Fantilli is sixth with 3.24 GF/60 at 5v5 per Natural Stat Trick.

Marchenko has a point in every game this month except for one — the shootout loss against the New York Rangers on Sunday. Since being a healthy scratch twice in late October, he has six points (four goals, two assists).

Dmitri Voronkov has seven points (two goals, five assists). He entered Tuesday's loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on a three-game point streak (zero goals, three assists). Per Natural Stat Trick, he has a 4.51 GF/60 and leads the team with 3.07 xGF/60.

David Jiricek (one goal, two assists) is back in Columbus and has proven he should be in the NHL based on his play so far. Per Natural Stat Trick, he's second in 5v5 GA/60 (2.1) and has a 2.41 xGA/60.

When You're Hot You're Hot

The penalty kill is officially in another zone right now.

Columbus' penalty kill is third in the league (89.4%) and has killed off 22 straight, which is the third-best mark in Jackets history. The 22 consecutive kills go back over the last nine games to Oct. 28.

A Bit Unlucky

Columbus brings up the rear of the Eastern Conference with four wins, but how many wins would they have if they’ve been able to preserve a lead?

Their previous five losses have all come in which Columbus led at some point, including in the final minute against the Florida Panthers and New York Rangers. They grabbed a single point in both of those games. 

Call it bad luck or a flaw, whether systematically or with personnel, that number should even out as the season continues as long as they continue to do the right things and improve. 

The Blue Jackets are 13th in the league in GF/60 (2.68) in 5v5 situations and 25th in all situations (2.70) per Natural Stat Trick. If the team can bury more of their chances, these previous results could be different.

"Our power play's got to start producing, our top guys got to start producing," head coach Pascal Vincent said after Tuesday's loss to the Penguins.

Speaking of unlucky, Johnny Gaudreau is off to the worst offensive stretch of his career with just six points through 16 games and only one goal. At some point, the goals and points should come for Gaudreau, right?

Gaudreau is in a three-way tie for second on the team with 38 shots on goal with Fantilli and Marchenko. Per Natural Stat Trick, Gaudreau is ninth in xGF/60 (2.78).

Counter that with Erik Gudbranson, who has added offense to his game and is in the middle of his best scoring stretch after 727 games in 13 seasons.

With an assist in Tuesday's loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, he has seven points (one goal, six assists) in a seven-game stretch for the first time in his career. Gudbranson is on a three-game point streak (zero goals, four assists).

The Blue Jackets are back at it on Thursday night against the Arizona Coyotes from Nationwide Arena.

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