Playoff Cutoff: Analyzing What the Blue Jackets Have to Do Down the Stretch

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ChiliChantSucks's picture

Hockey Reference has the Jackets to finish with 97.6 points which lands at ~6th~ in the Metro. I think I agree that we'll fall around that point total but I'm not sure about the positioning. Those metro games will be huge and I think we'll need some help from other teams falling to have a better shot at making the cut.

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ALeeRocks's picture

I disagree that 32 points in 29 sounds daunting...

Their current pace gives them over 35 points while only 14-11-4 (which is not all that impressive) gets them to 32 points.

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Nic Hendrickson's picture

They will, eventually, regress to the norm and come off the current pace they’re on. One thing that leads me to believe they will regress a bit is their abysmal power play. They’re going to need to capitalize on the man advantage more often down the stretch to get points from some of these swing games.

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ALeeRocks's picture

Over a full season, 32 points in 29 games is only a 90-point pace.  So while I agree that team regression is likely, my point is that 32 in 29 (e.g. something like 14-11-4) does not sound that daunting a task.

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OWSH45's picture

Uh, no. First off, 96 points is the average over the last few seasons. However, with one exception, notice that, in the East, the point total is consistently higher than in the West. Meaning that the Jackets actually need to do better than another 32 points. Secondly, as Nick noted, the PP still sucks and, especially after the ASG, games tend to get more physical as teams jockey for playoff positions. This means more penalties called, requiring strong special teams play. And, sorry Elvis fans, but he can't keep up this level of play for the rest of the season and no one knows how Korpi will play, once he comes back, nor how Torts will divide goaltending duty, nor how Elvis will respond both to splitting time in net with Korpi and facing adversity after such a spectacular run. So, yes, the Jackets have had a n outstanding run, but assuring a playoff spot is still in question.

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ALeeRocks's picture

Uh, huh?  I am really not sure what you are disagreeing with...

First, I was referencing Nic's article which projected our target as 31 or 32 points over the remaining 29 games to make my point, but whether or not the Jackets need more points was not up for debate.

Second, I never claimed the Jackets would make the playoffs - only that 32 points in 29 games does not seem that daunting.

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Terrible Ted's picture

While I agree that they cannot keep up this pace and regress to the norm, I think the new norm will bear closer resemblance to the current streak than the first 30 games. The opening 1/3 of the season was defined by an unusually stout schedule and nearly every forward playing well below their abilities. Cam and Bjorks look to be returning to their level from last season. PLD and Zach have stepped up. There are still plenty of guys who are hit or miss for the most part, but it's a far cry from the beginning of the season.

Goaltending has far exceeded expectations and will likely see a dip. Still, winning games 3-2 or 2-1 is a realistic outcome these days, which didn't seem possible 2 months ago. 32 points in 29 games is barely over .500. Considering the number of games against non-playoff teams, and how well CBJ has played against the top teams of late, I think finishing .600 or higher is reasonable. Maybe that's overly optimistic, but I'm seeing a team that has been developing its identity, and is still growing. There will be a dip, but I think it will be a couple of minor speed bumps, not a significant trend.

Also, consider this: People started talking about regressing to the norm about 10 games ago. It hasn't happened.

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CBJMatt's picture

There are some underlying numbers that say that the regression is coming, but like you said, even if/when it does, they don't need to play at that level.

Conversely, the first stretch of the year had very good underlying numbers, but was done in by a historically low shooting percentage. They have shot way over that for a long stretch now, so the regression would theoretically be more to historical averages, rather than where they were in October/November. As of this morning, the shooting % was right around league average.

The other thing to point out is that all of the numbers continue to support a club that is very adept at denying shots from the most dangerous parts of the ice. That's not the kind of that that you expect to just vanish. Maybe it falls back a little, but that number is more closely tied to systemic play, rather than statistical variance.

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OWSH45's picture

Gentlemen, permit me to remind you that I am a combat veteran. A large part of my training (which nicely blended with my basic personality) was to identify, as much as possible, what could go wrong with a plan, then do my best to prevent those things from happening. Ask any veteran and he'll tell you that you never forget your training. So, seeing negative possibilities is as natural to me as breathing.

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CBJMatt's picture

All good! I'm naturally an optimist type anyway, so it's a good check!

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OWSH45's picture

Thing is, I often agree with you, I simply see the potential problems.

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OWSH45's picture

Gentlemen, permit me to remind you that I am a combat veteran. A large part of my training (which nicely blended with my basic personality) was to identify, as much as possible, what could go wrong with a plan, then do my best to prevent those things from happening. Ask any veteran and he'll tell you that you never forget your training. So, seeing negative possibilities is as natural to me as breathing.

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CBJMatt's picture

If 97 is your target line, Columbus needs to go 15-13 down the stretch, which seems doable. Not saying it happens, but it's not like they need to continue on this crazy run for two more months.

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rotsbu's picture

Not much to add except what a slug-fest the Eastern Conference is.  As of this morning, the CBJ's 67 points would have them in second place in the entire Western Conference!  They'd be leading the Pacific and trailing only STL in the Central.

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CBJMatt's picture

Amazing how quickly that can swing. It wasn't all that long ago that the west was dominant, and the East was struggling to keep up. 

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OWSH45's picture

Which goes straight to my original point that a team in the East needs more points to get in the playoffs than one in the West.

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