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Blue Jackets Links

Nothing "special" about this team right now.

Thursday, February 01, 2007
Dear Edmonton,




With that little bit of bile out of the way, let's talk about special teams, since it's causing me to tear out my full head of hair night after night as I watch the Blue Jackets.

Prior to the past four game winning streak, the Jackets were known for an abysmal power play, but a moderately respected penalty kill. Pretty much the same thing they were known for last year as well, where the team simply refused to shoot the puck, and took much too long when setting up the power play. It's something that you generally get used to as a Blue Jackets' fan, hence why there's never a lack of booing at Nationwide Arena whenever they're given the opportunity to be on one.

Amusing enough, the power play has come alive over the past five games, starting with the win against Detroit prior to the All-Star Break. Since that game, the power play has had an amazing 28% success rate, going 7 for 25. In short? Just plain efficient and great.

More impressive is who the power play success has come against. Although Detroit (14th on the penalty kill) and Buffalo (20th) are not exactly your best penalty killing teams, Minnesota (6th), Edmonton (2nd), and Vancouver (1st!) are. In both the Vancouver and Edmonton games, the Blue Jackets had just two opportunities on the power play, and they made sure that one of them counted. Meanwhile, they picked up a pair of goals on two different power play opportunities against Minnesota, in what was a crazy and penalty-packed opening several minutes which involved a double minor.

So Gary Agnew, who was brought up from Syracuse at the start of the year to become the offensive/power play assistant coach, is starting to finally work for his paycheck. The reason the power play is coming to life is because the Jackets are starting to shoot the puck from the point, and then crash in on the net during ensuing scrums in the event of rebounds. They still take too much time looking for the "perfect" shot, but it's coming around. They're not trying to be overly pretty any more.

The Penalty Kill, however ... which is Gord Murphy's responsibility ... well, let's just say it was literally the killer in last night's game. But last night wasn't the only night that involved nightmarish play on the penalty kill. Over the same five games that the Blue Jackets have been strong on the PP, the PK has slumped deeper and deeper in to abysmal:

vs. DET (18th PP) - 0/6 (0%)
vs. BUF (20th PP) - 2/6 (33%)
vs. MIN (22nd PP) - 1/9 (11%)
@ VAN (11th PP) - 2/3 (66%)
@ EDM (26th PP) - 2/3 (66%)

In all, the Jackets' have only succeeded on 20 of 27 penalty kill attempts, going 76%. The currently 30th ranked penalty kill belongs to the Tampa Bay Lightning, and even that ranks at 77.2%

Detroit and Minnesota were good shows on the PK, as should be expected. But when you give up 2 PP goals to Edmonton, as well as the Sabres, you have issues. Major issues.

So what's the problem? Looking at the game against Edmonton, it's a matter of player position. Blue Jackets are swarming only one area of the zone with disregard for what else is happening around them, giving point shooters juicy opportunities to fire off shots (like with the first goal). Also pertaining to a lack of hockey sense when on the PK, is the second PP goal by the Oilers where Petr Sykora was left entirely untouched as he snuck in behind the PK unit to knock in a rebound without any sort of hassle. Again, this has to do with too much overloading in one spot, and not knowing where to apply pressure.

Meanwhile in the Buffalo game, it's impossible not to give full credit to Chris Drury on the first power play goal he scored. Most of the time, that player in the corner is going to be passing the puck out to the point, or to someone trying to sneak in to the slot behind the PK unit. Instead, Drury just skated on in close to the net from his vantage point, and roofed it over a down low Fredrik Norrena, leaving the Jackets a bit stunned and standing with their hockey pants down.

The second goal by Drury was from that same spot, waiting for a juicy rebound as the CBJ tried to get the puck out of the area after a Norrena save. Factor in that this was a 5-on-3 (it fortunately expired to become a 5-on-4 a mere half a second before the goal), and there was little that could be done.

What's more flustering is that the Jackets have actually done a respectable job of staying out of the penalty box for the most part recently, with the exception of the Minnesota game (though both teams had a bit of a parade to the box, to be fair). Funny that now that the team seems to be playing more disciplined and avoiding stupid penalties, they can't patch together a working penalty kill.

Labels: ,

  • At 5:16 PM, Blogger Herringbone said…


    Good post on the PK. I watched the last two games pretty closely and it seems as though the CBJ really need to get another blueliner and make some attempts at getting Hainsey out of there. Go back and watch any number of games this year and you will always see Ron skating towards the scoring player. Unfortunately, this always occurs when the player has already start celebrating. I havent posted in a while, but am starting to ramp back up. Needless to say, Hainsey is my main target of vitriol at this point and I dont believe that his offensive skills contribute enough to overshadow his defensive liabilities.

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