We do have the stats on that.

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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!

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.

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.

As we wake on Day One of the Post Nashpocalyptic world, national opinion beyond the friendly confines of I-270 seem to be of the belief that the Columbus Blue Jackets are going to be absolutely terrible and abysmal without Rick Nash (as opposed to 30th place with Rick Nash), as if he is the sole proprietor of goal scoring in Columbus. I decided to take a look forward at what the Blue Jackets could do. I went through Rob Mixer’s “How Will they Line Up?” on CBJToday, and used that as the proposed lines. Obviously, anything can change between now and October. Obviously, just because a guy’s numbers averaged over the last two years say he’ll score 15 goals, it doesn’t mean he can’t slump or explode into a career year. And no amount of stats can predict the chemistry (or lack thereof) between a couple of guys – but let’s find some basis for what everyone’s griping about.

L1: Prospal – Brassard – Foligno

Vinny Prospal – age 37 – LW

2011-12 82 16 39 55 -11 3 165
2010-11 29 9 14 23 4 2 61
(projected over 82) 82 25 40 65 11 6 172
Average 82 21 39 60 0 4 169

Derick Brassard - age 24 – C

2011-12 74 14 27 41 -20 5 125
2010-11 74 17 30 47 -11 6 183
Average 74 16 29 44 -16 6 154

Nick Foligno – age 24 – W

2011-12 82 15 32 47 2 1 153
2010-11 82 14 20 34 -19 5 149
Average 82 15 26 41 -9 3 151

L1* has three guys who seem to have no difficulty averaging around 15 goals apiece and point totaling in the 40-55 range. If they develop chemistry and take shots (why so few, Brassard?), they could turn into a 40-50 goal line. Or more? It would be fantastic if all three could produce 20-goal seasons, and that doesn’t seem overly unrealistic, especially with Foligno looking to assume a larger role with Columbus than he did in Ottawa. If they can shore up their defensive liability (big minuses) they could be effective.

L2: Umberger – Dubinsky – Johansen

RJ Umberger – age 30 – LW

2011-12 77 20 20 40 -10 5 200
2010-11 82 25 32 57 3 8 220
Average 80 23 26 49 -4 7 210

Brandon Dubinsky – age 26 – C

2011-12 77 10 24 34 16 0 140
2011-12 77 24 30 54 -3 4 202
Average 77 17 27 44 7 2 171

 Ryan Johansen – age 19 – C/W

2011-12 67 9 12 21 -2 3 99

L2* is a little harder to predict as both Umberger and Dubinsky trailed off in 2011-12 compared to their prior production, but had scored in the 20-25 range with regularity prior to 2012. If they return to form – and Ryan Johansen feeds off of their experience after having an up and down rookie year – could they be a 60 goal line? One third of Ryan Johansen’s goals were on the PP. Could this be PP1?

L3: Anisimov – Letestu – Atkinson

Artem Anisimov – age 24 – C

2011-12 79 16 20 36 12 4 132
2010-11 82 18 26 44 3 3 190
Average 81 17 23 40 8 4 161

Mark Letestu – age 27 – C

2011-12 62 11 14 25 -9 4 105
2010-11 64 14 13 27 4 4 128
Average 63 13 14 26 -3 4 117

Cam Atkinson – age 23 – RW

2011-12 27 7 7 14 1 1 66
(projected over 82) 82 21 21 43 3 3 200

L3* is home to a guy who was on fire in his rookie season’s latter stages (Atkinson) and dominated the AHL, a guy who was ineffective with a minimal role in Pittsburgh (Letestu) but caught fire in Columbus in a new role, and a guy who has scored at least twelve goals in all three of his NHL seasons (Anisimov). It’s hard to say if Letestu’s change of scenery will continue to be in his favor, or if Anisimov will flourish in his new home, or if the sneak preview of Atkinson we got last season will last, but I see no reason why this line couldn’t put up 40 goals between them.

L4: Gillies – MacKenzie – Dorsett

Colton Gillies – age 23 – C/W

2011-12 75 2 6 8 -9 0 24
2010-11 7 1 0 1 -2 0 3
2009-10 45 2 5 7 -2 0 22
Average 42 2 4 5 -4 0 16

Derek MacKenzie – age 31 – C

2011-12 66 7 7 14 4 1 61
2010-11 63 9 14 23 14 0 76
Average 65 8 11 19 9 1 69

Derek Dorsett – age 25 – RW

2011-12 77 12 8 20 -11 2 137
2010-11 76 4 13 17 -15 0 112
Average 77 8 11 19 -13 1 125

L4* is about what you expect from a fourth line. I went back three years to show Gillies’ complete lack of any kind of production (completely underwhelming, but also completely replaceable), but MacKenzie and Dorsett make up for it. Dorsett’s new-found offense, if it sticks, added to MacKenzie’s defensive game, could make this a formidable shut down line that is capable of 40+ points.

What I see overall is instead of having one guy who is expected to tip in 30-40 goals with a supporting cast around him, the new Blue Jackets appear to be a team of small ego-ed, hard working players. At least 6-7, if not 10, have 20-goal potential. In 2011-12, the Blue Jackets had one 30G, one 20G, and one 16G (four others with double digits). The Nashville Predators (11 with 10+ G, 2 over 20) and St. Louis Blues (9 with 10+ G, 2 over 20) have shown that a team doesn’t have to be loaded with high-priced superstars to have success. What the Blue Jackets have “lost” in removing #61’s 30g/29a, they have gained in a handful of additional players with 20g potential at the same cost.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are 3-1-1 in their last five. Yes, you read that correctly. Could this be the team we were led to believe that we’d really be seeing this season? It’s probably easy to get caught up in the furor of the moment and to be dazzled (or glamored, if you will) by a five game uptick after such an agonizingly slow death – I mean start – but there are enough positives to pull from the situation that it’s hard to believe that this isn’t for the relative long haul.

The Beast has been awakened: Trade drama,slow start, injury, slow start, trade drama, and Welcome to Columbus, Jeff Carter. After a tumultuous start to his born again career in Columbus, the blonde bombshell wasn’t exactly winning fans over on the ice. In the last two games, the snakebite has been healed and Carter has sniped three goals. Pure snipes, wicked wristers that nobody is going to corral. So this is why we traded an underachieving kid and a high draft pick. Next time we’ll make sure to specify that October 7th is when the party starts on the invites. Provided the snake of doom doesn’t bite again, Carter’s spark – along with the chemistry starting to build up front – could and should ignite a snowball effect that will turn into the Nash/Carter/InsertWarmBodyHere combination we were really hoping could score 60-70 goals.

Out with the old, in with the Wisniewski: Congratulations! You just have just acquired and spent a ridiculous amount of money on a semi-proven offensive defenseman. Now learn to play without him for half of preseason and eight games of regular season. The Jackets definitely missed this guy for the first eight games, and that showed when he roared back onto the ice against Detroit for the team’s first victory of the year. However, his stability faltered after just a few games (something absurd like -11 in just three games), but he seems to have regained form and netted a monster goalforthe Jackets to topple Darth Vader/Goliath/The Devil/World Hunger/the Nashville Predators.

- Not so Vermeaty: What the heck happened with the former first/second line Antoine Vermette? This guy was struggling to epic proportions to start the season, but since being moved to the third line has seemed to calm down. He’s playing more defensive minutes with Pahlsson & Dorsett, and is pressing less to make offensive opportunities.

Nikita Nikitininininin and the Surprise Defensive Corps: Great, Howson. One Nikita wasn’t enough drama, so you went out and traded the well-loved (hold your snorts, please, media-types) Little Shake (oh, just me?) for a guy WHOSE NAME IS NIKITA-SQUARED. What a surprise this guy has been, eating minutes, putting up a few assists, and otherwise quietly getting the job done. John Moore has also stepped up to the plate and has seemingly matured before our eyes. Perhaps it was the lack of pressure for him this season to be somebody they could depend heavily on, seemingly relegated for heavy AHL duty, that allowed him to slow down mentally. Whatever it was, Moore has done relatively, surprisingly well when called into service, though Arniel has him on a tight leash and is hesitant to use him in the third period of close games.

Let’s be realistic, now. The hole has been dug deeply, and even if the recent surge continues for the next 60 games, there’s little chance that this team can elevate itself to a dominant, sure bet for the playoffs. Can we hope so? Absolutely. The same way the Jackets tripped, stumbled, and rolled out of the gate and into a puddle of quicksand, teams are going to hit these patches. The Jackets need to capitalize on those moments when their competitors stumble, and make the most of every opportunity. If nothing, to salvage their dignity and that of their fans, and to prove that Howson & co. made the right moves last summer. You can buy all of the pieces to the car, but if you don’t assemble them correctly, or some of them misfire, the car isn’t worth its weight in metal. Are the Jackets worth their weight in salary cap? On paper, and in theory, you want to hope so. Over the last five games? Absolutely. Has the ship been righted, or are they going to continue taking on water? Time will tell.

Since they have been less than secretive about tonight being their team Halloween shindig – it’s only fair we make ridiculous assumptions about what they’re dressed as, right? Here are a few predictions, and awards:

Ryan Johansen’s curfew is 9:00, so he showed up early in his costume:
A Mythical Creature Known As a  First-Round Success*!

MYTHICAL CREATURE

(* – So far, anyway.)

Shortly after, John Moore and Matt Calvert joined him,
but it doesn’t seem as though they worked too hard on their costumes…

...wait a second...

Holy Jeepers, what a great costume!

The Russell twins decided this year to dress up together (again), and took home the ribbon for funniest costume:

It's like THE TWILIGHT ZONE!!! (s/t to @HabItHerWay)

 But the best, and scariest costume of the night belongs to one Aaron Johnson.
He showed up dressed as Christian Backman. At least everybody thinks so,
but nobody can be certain it isn’t really Christian Backman pretending to be Aaron Johnson…

It’s that time again, my friends, when I make my pick for who gets the honor of wining and dining me (hypothetically, anyway) for the next week. Boyfriends Prospal & Russell are still very much enjoying decent seasons so far (forget about Ottawa), but we must move on. Life is short!

With a less than great but hardly horrible week staring me in the face, but a surprising amount of goals and individual performances, picking this week was actually a little more fun and less of a process of elimination. With his first professional goal (a game-winner, to boot) and a couple of assists in the last three games, and despite Scott Arniel hot-gluing (hot glue works best for heavy things) him to the bench against Buffalo, I’m going to give this week’s honors to…

Awwwww.

RYAN JOHANSEN!

In just the last week alone, Ryan has stepped up his game ten fold. Against Detroit, in the team’s big win, Ryan was flying and looked much more composed than most of his  more experienced teammates. Who knows how long RyJo will stick around Columbus from here on out as he’s up to seven games, but mad props to the rook for taking a huge step in his progress over the last handful of games. Please, Mr. Howson, don’t take my boyfriend away!

Well, after an explosive (or, shall we say, implosive) first week of the season, jammed-packed with four games, week two was not so accomodating. With only two games on the schedule — both against Dallas, both losses — there wasn’t much to work with in picking this week’s Boyfriend. Yet again, we got only two goals in each game, each coming from a different guy (Prospal, Giroux, Brassard, Russell). Secondary scoring finally showed up, yay! It would be easy to pick Prospal again, especially on the basis of: he’s leading the team in goals and his public calling-out of his teammates’ effort in the Dispatch (speaking of — good on you, Vinnypants, let’s go on a second date?). But… I don’t make anything easy! In lieu of starting repeats already, I’m going to pick a brand spankin’ new boyfriend this week: KRIS RUSSELL. 

D'awww, don't act like you didn't see this coming.

In honor of his greatly improved play from Game One until now, and despite the fact that he was a part of the group EpicFailure that allowed Jamie Benn’s highlight reel goal, he did score a pretty fantastic goal from the blue line that we need to see a lot more of from our defensemen. Especially him. Not to mention, shortly after his goal, he showed tremendous battle and kept Dallas from scoring on the vacated net in the waning moments of the game Tuesday night when the pressure cooker was turned up on high. The little guy is showing great “compete” (as our trusty broadcasters like to say) and his effort has picked up ten-fold. At a point (already) in this season where effort level may be the deciding factor between 0-5-1 and, perhaps, 3-3 or better, it’s important to give kudos (or brownies, or cupcakes) to a guy who has not taken a night off. Since Opening Night, anyway. But we’re going to pretend that game didn’t happen.

So, Krissyface, much to the groans and chagrin (also, “non surprise”) of my friends, you are Week Two’s Boyfriend of the Week. #10 in your programs, #1 in your hearts! (Or just mine.) Keep playing well and pretty soon the media will be forced to find even more creative ways to make fun of you! ;)