All posts by Dannie

We do have the stats on that.

Stats Geekery: Pace projections

As it does usually, curiosity gets the better of me when it comes to hockey statistics. Now that the Columbus Blue Jackets are more than halfway through their season, I wanted to take a look at what the top producers’ numbers might look like on April 13, when all is said and done, and how that compares to past production. To do so, I took each player’s numbers, divided them by his number of games played (stat/gm pace), then multiplied it by 34 – the number of games remaining before tonight’s match-up against Los Angeles. This is obviously a huge plate of assumptions – assuming nobody who is cold gets hot, nobody who is hot struggles, and that [knock on wood] nobody takes a hit from the injury bug. I’ll undoubtedly be wrong, but it’ll be fun to see how they finish the year versus mid-season form. If you would like to look at the whole team, check out my spreadsheet on Google Docs.

Ryan Johansen

Player GP G A P PP SH S
Ryan Johansen 48 18 18 36 4 0 131
Projected 82 31 31 62 7 0 224

Nobody has to tell you this guy is way off his prior pace, but he’s 21 and he’s going in the right direction, so we’re obviously down with this. I’ve already talked about that. If Johansen does indeed finish with 31 goals or better, he will be only the third player in franchise history to do so. Geoff Sanderson and Rick Nash are the others. (But you already knew that.) 62 points would also be the most by one player since 2011.

Brandon Dubinsky

Player GP G A P PP SH S
Brandon Dubinsky 42 10 22 32 3 2 108
 Projected 76 18 40 58 5 4 195

When Dubinsky, Anisimov, et al came over from New York, I had said that if we got two twenty-goal scorers in exchange for one streaky 30-40 goal scorer, I would take it. Let’s pretend last year never happened. Dubinsky is on pace for eighteen goals. His career high is 24, but let’s look at the point total – his career high is 54, but averaged in the forties. He’s having a career year, and I’d guarantee much of that has to do with the electrifying chemistry he creates with Cam Atkinson and Matt Calvert. We’ll take it.

James Wisniewski

Player GP G A P PP SH S
James Wisniewski 41 4 24 28 1 0 90
 Projected 75 7 44 51 2 0 165

When Wisniewski came over to the Blue Jackets in the summer of 2011, I wasn’t sure what to think at first. They paid him an extraordinary amount of money, but the kind you need to bring in talent when you’ve got little by way of bragging rights. I did some nerdy stat breakdowns at the time and declared it a deal. He hasn’t come anywhere close to his career high of 51 points in 2011 that earned him the deal, but — oh, look at that — he’s on pace for exactly that amount. He’s topped his first full-season point total with Columbus, and appears to be continuing upward. We can only hope for good health. Right now, he’s figuring fifteenth among defensemen in points. Good news for #21.

Cam Atkinson

Player GP G A P PP SH S
Cam Atkinson 48 15 12 27 2 1 135
Projected 82 26 21 46 3 2 231

Cam Atkinson has yet to play a full season in the NHL – this will be his first – so its hard to compare his numbers versus the past. However, in both of his first two (partial) seasons, he averaged around 0.51 PPG. This season he’s upped that to 0.56 PPG. That isn’t a huge difference, but it shows Atkinson can be counted on to be consistent. Likely, these numbers are helped by a pretty hot last five games, but even streaky players even out over time.

Nick Foligno

Player GP G A P PP SH S
Nick Foligno 42 12 14 26 2 0 70
 Projected 76 22 25 47 4 0 127

Foligno has played 438 NHL games, but has never surpassed twenty goals in a season, despite also putting up 47 points in 2011-12, just before moving over to Columbus. Steady, Foligno has been, in his parts of seven seasons, and he’s every bit on pace to continue that.

RJ Umberger

Player GP G A P PP SH S
RJ Umberger 48 11 13 24 5 0 84
Projected 82 19 22 41 9 0 144

Before I say anything, let me remind you that Umberger is third on the Columbus Blue Jackets in cap hit, behind Marian Gaborik and Nathan Horton. He makes more than every single player ahead of him on this list. Up until 2011, Umberger was putting upwards of 50 ponts on the board every year, with one year just below that. Since then, Umberger has been on a steady decline: 40 in 77 games in 2011-12 (0.52), 18 in 48 games in 2012-13 (0.375). This year he’s returned to 0.50, but he’s still well below the 0.67 clip that earned him his deal. Prognosis: not good enough. (Side Note: five minutes after I wrote this, he scored a goal.)

Artem Anisimov

Player GP G A P PP SH S
Artem Anisimov 48 12 10 22 1 1 88
Projected 82 21 17 38 2 2 150

For most of the beginning of this season, it felt a bit like Anisimov was skating lost and accomplishing nothing. Anisimov plays a two-way game, counted on for his defensive game, but he’s got hands like buttah and we know know he can snipe when he wants to. Even in his best year with the Rangers, Anisimov only put up 18 goals. He’s on pace for just over twenty, and his second-highest point total. It’s believable that Anisimov is hiding more in his arsenal, but the positive takeaway is that he’s not actually getting worse.

 

 

Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Matt Calvert (11) celebrates with Cam Atkinson (13) after Calvert scored against the Nashville Predators in the third period of an NHL hockey game on Thursday, April 4, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. The Blue Jackets won 3-1. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

The Calvert Effect

Much has been made of Matt Calvert’s relentless play since returning to the lineup after a six-week absence. After all, the undersized winger from Brandon, MB put up goals in three consecutive games on an energized line with Brandon Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson. This morning, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch posted a piece about Calvert’s valuable feistiness, in which head Coach Todd Richards says of him: “He just doesn’t ever back down from anything. He’s got enough skill to finish and make plays, but he lays it on the line pretty much every shift.”

He isn’t big. He isn’t showy. He hides just below the radar in a place where his forecheck attack is completely unexpected. Opponents aren’t prepared for The Little Guy Who Could. He is unafraid to compete to the fullest.

But is there statistical evidence to believe in The Calvert Effect, or is it something we’ve all excitedly imagined?

Calvert is a +5 this season in the fourteen games in which he has suited up in the Jackets (including +4 on the road), which is good for best on the team. He’s been on the ice for twelve goals for, but only on the ice for seven against. That boils down to once every other game that he’s on the ice for an even-strength goal against. To compare, the top three in the goals-against category are Jack Johnson (1.303 GA/G, -12), Fedor Tyutin (1.1 GA/G, -6), and Artem Anisimov (0.939 GA/G, -6). Of course, Johnson, Tyutin, and Anisimov have played a lot more games, but Calvert’s ATOI is in the same neighborhood as Anisimov’s, and special teams don’t count.

Plus/minus gets a lot of grief for being subjective and/or useless – but when broken down into granular detail it can tell a remarkably important story. To simplify a lot of boring numbers: Matt Calvert is defensively responsible and less likely to be a liability for the hockey club.

Why is this important?

When Matt Calvert was out of the lineup – 19 grueling games in which the Blue Jackets went 6-10-3 – their goal differential was a scalding, ugly -14. With Calvert in the lineup, the Blue Jackets are 8-5-1, and have a positive goal differential (+7). Of course Calvert chips in for goals – that is part of his job, of course – but his entire team is better when he is around.

Realistically speaking, no, Calvert does not elevate his team to greatness the way a Crosby does. He doesn’t contribute oodles of goals to set off that differential and he probably never will (he will likely max out as a 20-goal scorer, but that ain’t too shabby, either). He is doing the simpler, smaller things with contagious energy and enthusiasm that are part of the complete game that make him invaluable to his team.

Johansenblog

Upward Trajectory: Ryan Johansen

Please raise your hand if, in June 2010 you were fully prepared to hear Scott Howson say the name Ryan Johansen when he rose to the podium to call the Columbus Blue Jackets’ fourth-overall pick at the NHL Entry Draft in Los Angeles. Now put your hands down, you liars. At the time, Johansen was rising among the ranks of North American skaters, but was still relatively unknown at 6’2” and 190-ish pounds and coming out of Portland in the Western Hockey League. He was projected somewhere in the top twenty, but Scott Howson took a chance on a kid he believed in.

Let’s face it; Howson and MacLean’s track records with first round draft picks had been infamously bad. When Jarmo Kekalainen took over for Howson last season, one of his first moves was to trade two other former first-rounders (Derick Brassard, John Moore) to New York in the Marian Gaborik move, which left Johansen as the oldest Columbus-drafted first rounder in the organization.

Nobody honestly knew what to expect from the surprise pick. The fanbase collectively got its first authentic taste of Johansen’s capabilities at the 2011 World Junior tournament in Buffalo where he represented Canada on what might be Canada’s largest stage for their up-and-comers. Johansen produced nine points in seven games in what turned out to be a heartbreaker for Team Canada after giving up five unanswered goals to Russia in the third frame to take home the silver medal. Still, we all had seen Ryan Johansen on the amateur big stage and we liked what we saw: he had a big body and he had relentless effort.

But it didn’t transfer to Columbus right away. After a second year with Portland (and 92 points in 63 games, and another 28 in 21 playoff games), Johansen became a full-time NHL player and produced 21 points in 67 games (0.31 PPG). However, after a hot first six weeks, Johansen struggled to produce consistently. Nevertheless, he represented Columbus as a rookie at the All-Star Weekend in Ottawa.

After spending the lockout with Springfield of the AHL (33 points in 40 games), Johansen returned to Columbus to play another forty games and was only able to produce another twelve points (0.3 PPG). Johansen had yet to reach that higher gear that he had shown he was capable of playing in. At the end of the shortened 2013 season, he returned to Springfield for their postseason run. It was then that the red flags began to rise. Falcons head coach Brad Larsen told the Columbus Dispatch that Johansen wasn’t fully invested and was holding him accountable for such by scratching him from the AHL lineup.

Trouble in paradise? Stop me if you’ve heard this story before: a Columbus draft pick who expects a cakewalk, refuses to hustle, ultimately dissolves off the radar completely. This couldn’t be happening again, could it?

When he showed up to camp in September 2013, Johansen was standing an inch taller and an astounding 222 pounds, much bigger and stronger than when he very first arrived in Columbus in 2010. The signs of promise were there – unbelievable bouts of explosive offensive pressure and complete use of his gift of size – but would it be sustained?

One third of the way into this 2013-14 season, Ryan Johansen has taken over as the club’s point- and goal-leader (10-10-20 – a 0.71 PPG pace). He also throws more shots toward the net (77) than most of his teammates. He stands fourth on the team in power play average time on ice (2:37) and is even averaging a minute per game on the penalty kill. His 53.0% faceoff win percentage is not quite the club’s best, but he has taken 464 of them this season – around 25% more than Artem Anisimov. He’s learned to do the little things and with that, the offense has come.

The Blue Jackets are depending on Ryan Johansen more often and in more situations than ever before. And so far, he has responded astoundingly well. Johansen is showing more frequent flashes of being the player the club anticipated when they passed on a handful of players to take a chance on him. He has shown that he is willing and that he is capable of reaching that highest gear, and this season could be the turning point in the budding career of the young forward. And he’s only 21.

LIGHT ‘EM UP: Jarmo responds

MONTREAL — After the Columbus Blue Jackets clawed back from a 3-0 deficit to tie, then ultimately lose tonight’s match-up against the Montreal Canadiens, General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen held a brief press conference to address immediate issues with the team.

As a response to the outcry on Twitter about the team’s lack of named captaincy, Kekalainen declared he will be naming a captain immediately after the morning skate tomorrow. “Once our equipment crew is able to fashion a ‘C’ onto a jersey, we will name him,” he told Strait Jackets. “We’ve decided that it’s pivotal to name a captain in order to score more goals than the opposing team. It just has to happen.”

Additionally, he announced the signing of 77 year-old Vaclav “Vinny” Prospal. The left winger from the Czech Republic has played 4,512 games in the NHL, and scored ninety-seven goals for the Blue Jackets in 2013. “His contract offer was lost,” Kekalainen explains when asked why Prospal wasn’t signed sooner. “I forgot to dial the Czech country code on my fax machine. We’re incredibly honored to have our Lord and Saviour return to the club. He should make an immediate impact.”

Prospal will be in the lineup Saturday at Washington, starting alongside Captain Jared Boll. Expect the Blue Jackets to win by ten.

Studs & Duds: Game Two [CBJ 3, NYI 2 F/SO]

studsMark Letestu: How important is this guy to the team? Not only does he play everywhere Todd Richards puts him, he plays hard and he produces. With a goal in regulation to get the Jackets on the board and one in the shootout, Mark Letestu is our #1 stud tonight.

Cam Atkinson: That shootout game-winner was a beaut. But prior to that, he was a pivotal part of a line with Gaborik & Dubinsky that threw a lot of shots toward the net (6 SOG, 7 A/B, 2 MS).

 

dudsThe first and second periods: blech. The defensive zone play was abysmal. Scrambling, sloppy, lazy, distracted. It wasn’t until Letestu’s goal that there was any life breathed into them.

Ryan Murray: I’m not writing him off. I know it’s early. But he’s nothing like the Ryan Murray we saw in preseason. He’s got to get better, or I’d be content sending him off to Springfield for a little seasoning once Tyutin is back to speed.

 

 

 

10 Completely Serious Predictions for the 2013-14 Season

Who has time for production projections and standings predictions? Strait Jackets is here to bring you the hard-hitting important things: ten completely serious predictions about this season. You know you agree.

  1. Artem Anisimov will receive the jersey-tuck penalty so many times that the equipment staff will be forced to create a uniform onesie to keep him out of the box.

    Prototype for Anisimov’s new uniform.
  2. Black Tie Blue Jackets will feature an epic plaid suit-off between James Wisniewski and Brandon Dubinsky.
  3. Visiting fans will constantly be confused about why Nationwide Arena appears to be booing every time Boone “Grown Ass Man” Jenner does something awesome. (So, often.)
  4. “Mike Foligno” and “Ryan Yohansen” will have huge seasons. Too bad they’re not really Blue Jackets.
  5. Nathan Horton will not hear a “who?” but rather, a “woo!” once he makes his season debut.

    Everybody was kung fu fighting.
    Everybody was kung fu fighting.
  6. On November 7, at least one member of the New York Rangers will mistakenly enter the wrong dressing room, Rick Nash will stare creepily into the Fox Sports Ohio cameras one last time, Jared Boll and Derek Dorsett will have a throw-down to end all throw-downs, and everyone will need Pepto Bismol by the end of the evening.
  7. Cam Atkinson will be confused for a Future Jacket no fewer than five times, no matter how many times the security crew is reminded he’s really a Current Jacket.

    (Photo: ~kexiaohuax3/deviantart)
  8. At least one player will win NHL hardware, and at least one will win some Olympic bling.
  9. An unnamed player will have to be reminded that hybrid icing is a new game rule and not a Tim Horton’s donut feature.
  10. Leo Welsh will sing the national anthem at Nationwide Arena more than 41 times.

 

 

 

 

 

2013 Preseason Soundtrack

A few weeks ago, the Blue Jackets’ official Twitter account posed a question asking what songs get you pumped for Blue Jackets hockey? Coincidentally, I had started this project, but wasn’t quite ready to share at the time. This isn’t a collection of pump-me-up-to-kick-ass songs; instead this is a carefully picked soundtrack that I think perfectly plays along with our feelings coming off of a hopeful [but shortened] 2012-13 season, looking forward at a brand new start.

01. I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like) – Michael Franti & Spearhead

Life sounds like
I’m alive 
(This is what it sounds like)
Whoa-oh-oh, I’m alive

02. Ready to Go [Get Me Out of my Head] - Panic! at the Disco

So tell me right now
You think you’re ready for it
I wanna know 
Why you got me going
So let’s go
We’ll take it out of here
I think I’m ready to leap
I’m ready to live

03. Harlem - New Politics

(When it gets loud, I turn it up)
Shake it like a bad girl up in Harlem
(When it’s too hot, I light it up)
Light it up, yeah, smoke ‘em if you got ‘em
(When it’s too soft, I shake it up)

04. Future Foe Scenarios - Silversun Pickups

This revolution baby 
Proves who you work for lately 
Who do you work for baby 
And does it work for you lately?

05. Trojans – Atlas Genius

Take it off
Take it in
Take off all the thoughts of what we’ve been

06. Safe and Sound – Capital Cities 

I could lift you up
I could show you what you wanna see
And take you where you wanna be
You could be my luck
Even if the sky is falling down
I know that we’ll be safe and sound

07. Soldier On – The Temper Trap

All that is gold is rusting
No one will know
When seasons cease to change and
How far we’ve gone
How far we’re going
It’s the here and the now
And the love for the sound
Of the moments that keep us moving

08. Reunion – M83

You came out of nowhere
Stealing my heart and brain
Flaming my every cell
You make me feel myself
Will you stand in this land?
Will you stand in this land forever?

09. Counting Stars – OneRepublic

Lately I been, I been losing sleep
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby I been, I been prayin’ hard
Said no more counting dollars
We’ll be counting stars
Yeah, we’ll be counting stars

10. There’s No Going Back – Sick Puppies

There’s no going back,
When life’s a loaded gun, you pull the trigger, trigger
There’s no going back
The past is in the past
Thank God it doesn’t last forever

11. Here’s to Us – Halestorm

Here’s to all that we kissed
And to all that we missed
To the biggest mistakes
That we just wouldn’t trade
To us breaking up
Without us breaking down
To whatever’s come our way

 Like this, and want to listen to it yourself? If you use Spotify, check out this link to follow the playlist! Go Jackets!

On CannonFest, and being a #CBJ fan.

I started going to Blue Jackets games with regularity in 2008. At the time, I lived about 220 miles away in Louisville, KY, but I still made twelve trips up I-71 that year in my beat up little blue car. In 2009, I moved back to Cincinnati, and they became 100 mile trips up I-71, so I upped it to twenty five. I had a partial season package, and so did one of my good friends. I didn’t really know anybody in Columbus, but that didn’t stop us from having a good time.

Then this Twitter thing happened. Around that same time, people started using it more commonly, and the most amazing thing happened. Teams started using it, journalists started using it, and suddenly, everything was there at my fingertips, when I wanted it: information, stories, and photos. With that, slowly this sense of Twitter-community formed. I wasn’t just chattering about the Blue Jackets to an empty auditorium anymore (or maybe I was); there were other people on this new stage who loved them just as much as I did, and now I had an outlet to connect with them:

Post-game at RBar! Dinner at Boston’s! Meet me at the glass for warm-ups!

I didn’t make it to the first CannonFest, but I’ve been to all the rest. It feels like a family reunion without all the baby photos and familial awkwardness. You get to say hey to the Twitter pals and the blogger buddies you probably haven’t seen since April. It brings together everybody you haven’t seen beyond the @-symbol in months, but somehow it’s like you never left. There are new faces in Tom’s videos (like every year it seems), and someone new to hang our hope on. We reel together, just like we celebrate together.

I love being a Blue Jackets fan. For most of the last thirteen years, we’ve been the butt of a lot of stupid, unfunny jokes. We’ve been through a lot of heartbreak. We’ve watched a lot of losing games. But we’ve done it all together. Together. How many times have we gotten together at the cannon in the first intermission and lamented about some terrible goal they gave up after scoring first? How many times have we jumped out of our seats in unison and exchanged high fives after Cam, or Matty, or Arty, or LeBESTu lit the red light? After Bob stopped every single shot? After the defenseman du jour clobbered the other team’s superstar against the boards?

CannonFest is just a one-day, three hour display of what happens 365 days a year for a Blue Jackets fan. Being a Blue Jackets fan is being part of a community. Everybody wants to feel like they’re part of something, especially something that they’re so passionate about. I’ve never felt that in other sports: there is something so insanely intimate about hockey that sets it apart. Thank you, Twitter, for making it so easy, and thank you CannonFest, for making it so fun.

Totally Legitimate Things We Learned: Devo Camp Edition

There were no confirmed red flower pot hat sightings.
There were no confirmed red flower pot hat sightings.

This week, a horde of young whipper-snappers invaded the Arena District (unrelated to Justin Bieber) for a week full of life’s lessons (on how not to be Tyler Seguin) and a little bit of on-ice work. Here’s what we learned this week:

1. Alexander Wennberg was “actually born with this face,” thus confirming the existence of a God. Thank you. It appears that Mr. Wennberg will be a great addition to the organization(‘s collection of future male models), and he’s probably also pretty good at hockey. The 2016 edition of Black Tie Blue Jackets might rival New York Fashion Week.

2. Ilari Melart is a very large human being and wears sweaters that make him resemble a large, overstuffed teddy bear, the kind you win at a carnival. Sweet potatoes fear him. (Bonus: see all of @derdrache‘s photos & @AlisonL’s story over at FSO.)

"Hey girl. Wanna know what my jersey's made of? Boyfriend material."
“Hey girl. Wanna know what my jersey’s made of? Boyfriend material.”

3. Kerby Rychel enjoys cats.

4. Brandon Dubinsky was also born with a great face, and a fantastic fashion sense. Currently, the rumor the organization may have to change their name to the Columbus LadyKillers in the next few years, is still unconfirmed. #CLK

5. If hockey doesn’t work out for our prospects, they may have a future performing on Broadway. And no, that was not a Columyorkus BlueShirtJackets joke.

6. And lastly, at the end of the week, you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.

The CBJ Real Life Roster Challenge

So hindsight is 20/20, but this is the internet so we can do whatever we want. Here is the mission, should you choose to accept it. Create the ideal 2012-13 roster. But here are the tricks:

1. They have to all be or have been CBJ property. So Rick Nash is okay, but Sidney Crosby is not.
2. Consider their current playing status. Tugnutt was awesome but he’s kinda old now.
3. You cannot choose guys who were traded for each other. So, you cannot choose Rick Nash AND Brandon Dubinsky. Or a guy who was traded for a draft pick and the guy who was drafted by that pick.

Merry picking! Send your rosters to dannie@strait-jackets.net and I’ll share them here. Then we can sit around and drink copious amounts of wine and cry about what might have been.