Saturday, February 4, 2017

Statisfaction: What a Difference a Year Makes in Columbus

Welcome to Statisfaction, your daily dose of NHL-related numbers and factoids. Today we'll begin with the Columbus Blue Jackets, who are bidding to match their 2015-16 win total with a win tonight against New Jersey. It's FEBRUARY 5TH! That's an amazing turnaround for John Tortorella and the boys. Can you say NO MORNING SKATES!

1. Columbus is THE turnaround story of the NHL this season, by far.

Columbus, 2015-16: 34-40-8
Total Goals: 213, rank 18
Goals allowed: 248, rank 29

Columbus, 2016-17: 33-12-5
Total Goals: 167, rank 3rd
Goals Allowed: 121, rank 5th

Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has been in shape from the get-go, and has already played more games this season (40) than he did all of last season (37). And the defense, particularly the top two pairings of Seth Jones/ Zach Werenski and Jack Johnson/David Savard have been lights out. Those four are a combined plus-53.

Sergei Bobrovsky, 2015-16: 15-19-1, 2.75 GAA, .908 Save Percentage
Sergei Bobrovky, 2016-17: 28-9-3, 2.14 GAA, .927 Save Percentage

2. Burns playing point-per-game hockey in SJ

There are nine players, 25 games minimum, that are averaging a point per game this season in the NHL. Remarkably, one of them is a defenseman. Can't say enough about what Brent Burns is doing to help the Sharks attack this season.

In the last decade a defenseman has gone point-per-game only three times. Viking God Erik Karlsson did it last season (1.00) and Mike Green did it in back-to-back seasons, starting in 2008-2009 (1.07). Green was 1.01 in 2009-10.

Will Burns finish with the highest points-per-game totals for a defenseman in the last ten years?

3. Sebastian Aho is looking real-deal

The Hurricanes rookie scored another goal last night, giving him 16 on the season. Aho has now scored nine goals in his last 14 games to far outpace all other rookies since the start of the new year.

4. Bolts Sinking Deeper into Obscurity

The Tampa Bay Lightning are in dire straits right now. Only one NHL team has been worse than the Bolts since January 1st, and as the losses pile up it is unclear how Tampa is going to approach the deadline. The team has gone 3-9-2 since January 1, sinking to the bottom of the Eastern Conference where they are currently eight points behind Philly for the last Wild Card spot. Tampa has a minus-18 goal differential in their last 14 games.

5. According to Puckalytics, Nino Niederreiter is the best at dishing primary helpers in the NHL this season

Things are going right for pretty much everywhere in Minnesota, but we haven't given Nino Niederreiter much love of late, so here goes: 15 of the Swiss' 17 assists have been primary assists. For whatever that is worth... Connor McDavid is second, and how about Nashville's Colin Wilson making the below list?

That's it for today -- see you next time!