After coming out of the gate strong, the Blue Jackets shifted gears and took things to the next level. They made history with a franchise best 16-game win streak. Let’s look at the streak by the numbers.
The Blue Jackets won 16 straight games over parts of three months. That was easily the best in the league over that span. To put things into perspective, the next best team over that span of 37 days was the Pittsburgh Penguins who had 12 wins and 26 points. The worst team over that span was the Colorado Avalanche who amassed a pitiful total of only three wins and six points through 16 games.
Their win streak came only one win short of the all time record of 17 straight wins held by the Pittsburgh Penguins. While the streak doesn’t get a page in the record books, it did earn the Blue Jackets 32 points. This catapulted them from seventh in the league to first, hopping over the likes of the Canadiens, Blackhawks, Rangers, Senators, Penguins, and Blues to get there.
6 One Goal Games
The Blue Jackets had six very close calls and very nearly ended their winning streak prematurely. Three of their games went to overtime and two of those three went to a shootout. The closest the Jackets came to losing was on December 3rd against the Coyotes. Although Columbus registered a record 60 shots against Arizona, the Coyotes were up by a goal late in the third period. Luckily Alexander Wennberg came up clutch and tied the game, sending it to overtime. The Jackets eventually took the game in a nailbiter of a shootout.
4 Players at a Point Per Game
Columbus had four players scoring at a point-per-game pace over their win streak, tied with the Penguins for the highest number of PPG players over that span. Sam Gagner, Brandon Saad, and Cam Atkinson each picked up 16 points apiece, and captain Nick Foligno registered 14 points in 14 games. Atkinson, Saad, and Foligno came up especially clutch as they notched two game winning goals each, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the Blue Jackets game winners!
10 Goals for Cam Atkinson
Cam Atkinson scored a whopping ten goals for the Blue Jackets over their win streak, good for sixth best in the league over that span. Those ten goals launched Atkinson up the stats table to sixth in the league this season, behind only Sidney Crosby, Jeff Carter, Vladimir Tarasenko, and rookie phenoms Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine. Now that’s good company!
Atkinson currently sits at 19 goals in the 2016-17 season. Only 38 games in he’s already scored more goals than his first two seasons combined. He’s now on pace for a total of 40 goals, good enough to smash his current best of 27 goals from last season.
The Blue Jackets outscored their opponents 61-26 over their win streak. Atkinson accounted for 16 percent of the Blue Jackets goals, and with 16 total points he contributed to 26 percent of them. Atkinson was a huge contributor to the Jackets’ success.
514 Shots on Goal
Atkinson wasn’t the only one putting pucks on net. The Blue Jackets registered 514 shots on goal over their winning streak, good for seventh best in the NHL over that span. The Jackets weren’t carried by one specific player in the shots department as not a single Columbus player was in the top 30 for shots on goal and only Brandon Saad landed in the top 50 with 49 of the Jackets’ 514 shots.
Each Blue Jackets player that played in more than two games registered at least 15 shots apiece. With each player chipping in and taking shots, the Blue Jackets were not a one man show during their win streak.
.943 Save Percentage
At the other end of the ice, the Blue Jackets goalkeepers were equally as impressive if not more impressive than the Jackets’ skaters. Vezina winning goalie Sergei Bobrovsky played out of his mind, registering a .941 SV%. Bob came up especially big in games 12 and 13 of the winning streak against the Canadiens and Bruins. In these two games Bob made 36 and 37 saves respectively, giving his team the best possible chance to win.
While Bobrovsky played out of his mind, backup goalie Curtis McElhinney also deserves some recognition. McElhinney made faced 80 shots in two games and had an extremely impressive performance against the LA Kings. Against the Kings, McElhinney made 44 saves on 46 shots, keeping the Blue Jackets alive through regulation. The game would go to a shootout where McElhinney stopped two of the Kings’ three shots, leading the Jackets to another win.
In my article about the Dallas Stars I explained PDO in depth. Essentially what PDO is, is a measurement of how lucky a team is. The higher your PDO, the luckier you are. While the Stars have a low PDO and have thus been extremely unlucky this season the Blue Jackets have the highest PDO, meaning they’ve been the absolute luckiest. With any streak, good or bad there’s going to be some luck involved.
The Jackets as a whole have been very lucky on shot conversion, converting on 11 percent of their shots. To put this into perspective, not a single team had a conversion rate this high at this point last season. Their goaltenders have also been performing far above their career averages, contributing to their high PDO.
46.7 Percent of Faceoffs Won
While most things seemed to go in the Blue Jackets favour during their win streak, one thing surprisingly did not. The Blue Jackets only won 46.7 percent of their faceoffs, second worst in the NHL. Not a single Blue Jackets player had a positive faceoff percentage during the win streak and their best player at the faceoff dot was Lukas Sedlak who won only 49.5 percent of his faceoffs, the worst being Sam Gagner who won only 43.9 percent.
The Blue Jackets faceoff woes seem to be an ongoing trend for them as their luck in the faceoff circle over the full season so far isn’t much better. In 2016-17 Columbus has won on 47.7 percent of their faceoffs, again dwelling in the basement with the second worst totals. Luckily for the Blue Jackets winning faceoffs isn’t all that important.
Chris Carnovale is the “The Wraparound” columnist for Good Night, Good Hockey. You can follow him on twitter @Chris_Carnovale