The Columbus Blue Jackets currently have the ninth best powerplay percentage in the NHL at 20.6 percent on the season. However, if one were to watch the Blue Jackets play since their 16-game win streak came to an end, one would see that the Blue Jackets powerplay is struggling.
During the franchise record 16-game win streak, the Blue Jackets powerplay was firing on all cylinders; scoring on 28.3% of their man advantages. This is a full nine percent over the league average. However, since the win streak was ended by the Washington Capitals on January 5th, the Blue Jackets have converted just 12.2% of their powerplay chances. This is .2 percent under the Colorado Avalanche, who have scored on 12.4% of their opportunities. That also includes a horrific February where the Blue Jackets converted on just 7.6% of their chances. The current drought as of late March has had just one goal in 13 attempts and spans back eight games. This includes a five minute major versus Toronto where the Blue Jackets powerplay did not register a shot on goal.
Columbus Blue Jackets Powerplay Struggles May Cause Issues in Playoffs
Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella has made multiple attempts to jump-start the rapidly declining powerplay unit. These attempts include taking rookie defenceman, Zach Werenski, who is normally the “quarterback” of the powerplay, off the top unit. He substituted defenceman Seth Jones in his place.
The numbers show that swapping Jones for Werenski has not been enough to jump-start the powerplay. The main cause of this is that the Blue Jackets are having trouble gaining possession in the offensive zone. Earlier in the season, the Blue Jackets could get in the offensive zone with ease on the man advantage. Now, they are having trouble moving the puck through the neutral zone, and controlling it over the blue line. Whether it be turning the puck over, or just missing on a pass, they can not seem to find a way to break through to the offensive zone with possession. Getting possession in the offensive zone is key for setting up a successful powerplay.
Success in Other Areas
There is good news for Blue Jackets fans. Even with the dying powerplay, the Blue Jackets have still found a way to keep themselves in the thick of the race for the Presidents Trophy, being just three points behind the Capitals. The reason the Blue Jackets have been able to stay around the top of the league can be credited to their depth and excellent goaltending. The Blue Jackets have 11 players who have reached double digit goals this season, along with goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky‘s return to Vezina Trophy form.
Even with the Blue Jackets depth and great goaltending, their fans should still be worried for when the playoffs come around. In the playoffs, each scoring chance becomes critical, as they are hard to come by. Missing on a powerplay opportunity could be the difference in winning and losing a series. While powerplay opportunities may be fewer in the playoffs than in the regular season; success on those limited opportunties can be a major factor in who advances to the next round. With just seven games remaining in the regular season, the Blue Jackets have limited time to figure out the solution to their problem.
Main Photo: COLUMBUS, OH – JANUARY 21: Seth Jones #3 of the Columbus Blue Jackets controls the puck during the game against the Calgary Flames on January 21, 2016 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)