One early season storyline that was almost impossible to believe was the sheer number of players the Columbus Blue Jackets lost to injury at the beginning of the year. There was a point when the team was barely recognizable.
But now, as the team begins to get healthy, the Blue Jackets are rolling. Through Decemeber, the team went 10-1-1. At one point too far out of the playoff race to even be considered a threat to make it, could Columbus actually make a push to play into April?
Well, if they’re going to get anywhere close, it’s going to be an uphill climb. As of the beginning of 2015, Columbus is eight points out of the playoff spot and, historically, teams that are this far out of the mix come this point in the season aren’t a safe bet to make the playoffs. But, even with that, the Blue Jackets are interesting because they’ve been able to go on this tremendous run over December while getting, for the most part, dominated.
Over the course of the their 12 games in December, Columbus posted the 28th worst Corsi For percentage, Fenwick For percentage. Simply put, that means the Blue Jackets have been getting dominated when it comes to puck possession. Yet the Columbus has somehow managed to come away with wins. What has helped the Blue Jackets pick up the wins throughout the month was the fourth best PDO in the league. That means, over Decemeber, only three teams had a better combined shooting percentage and save percentage than Columbus did in 2014’s final month.
The number that really buoyed their PDO was their teamwide save percentage, as Sergei Bobrovsky led the Blue Jackets to one of the best season’s in franchise history. At even strength, with the help of Bobrovsky, who played 11 of the 12 games, the Blue Jackets had the third-best save percentage at even-strength with a .942 mark.
Though the Blue Jackets shooting percentage was a middling 8.1 percent over December, an incredible power play is part of what made it a December to remember for Columbus. The power play now actually ranks first in the entire NHL at what is nearly a 25 percent clip.
What should worry Blue Jackets fans, however, even with this incredible run, is that these numbers are largely unsustainable. The PDO figure above 100 means the team is due to level out, the save percentage is unrealistically high, and the power play is performing incredibly well, but maintaining the current rate will be difficult, to put it lightly.
It’s not like the Blue Jackets can’t keep it going, however. There have been a few teams – 2013-14 Colorado and 2014-15 Calgary come to mind – that have broken the numbers and been able to push their way into the playoffs. If Columbus can keep doing the same, they could beat the odds, too.