When coaches, players, fans and broadcasters evaluate performances, usually statistics can be used for support. … but… like a lamp post is used for a drunk, that means a firm support is needed or he falls down. Statistics do help support successes and failures in every facet of life. From evaluating school progress, job performances and NHL scoring leaders, the method used in our society are numbers or letters. One can generalize an evaluation with comments and opinions, but need to be supported by numbers in today’s society.
The question at this point in the season has recently been pointed to our overall record, wins and losses, goals for, goals against, even strength goals, face off percentages goal tending numbers, production of individuals etc etc…..but right now all fingers point to the lack of success on the power play and the inconsistencies of the penalty kill that are illustrated by the published statistics.
A coach at every level lives and dies on the success of the team at both ends of the arena. The area of the game that a good coach can control is the historical fact that a good coach can teach defense. He can assist the team in strategies to help a weakness in net or the inability to tighten down the hatches in the defensive zone. A coach can help with some known tendencies that can help create scoring opportunities… example: an aggressive neutral zone transition game….a defense that will pinch in the offensive zone along the boards to keep the puck into the scoring area of the ice. With the proper forwards who can read and react they can help to create turnovers that can lead to offense as well. A coaching staff cannot score goals, but can only help in developing systems in an environment that will allow goal scoring.
The CBJ's record is 8-8-3 and is tied for best team in the NHL as far as statistical numbers on even strength play. The 5-on-5, the 4on4 play have the Jackets scoring 43 goals tied with the Boston Bruins and the San Jose Sharks… the Bruins are 12-3-4 the San Jose Sharks are 16-3-1. So what is one difference between winning and losing at this time of the year? The SPECIAL TEAMS is one place to look.
Hitch mentioned that the special teams cannot live on the negative side for too long. He doesn't look too far in pointing directly at the PK… yes the PK…not the PP. Not winning key and critical face offs in your own zone along with the ability to work as units of four with the man down is one area that needs to be better. This is the area that Hitch can control as he demands the players to be accountable each and every shift.
As far as the PP and how successful it becomes or continues to diminish relies on many factors and one is the selection of the personnel that are being used on the ice. The question was asked to Hitch if he had the tools to be successful? … he responded with the comment that we have to get what is here in Columbus playing better … so… in other words there are a few guys that need to pick their game up in short order, because the numbers are not pretty. Systems of play, practice tendencies and especially players are all under constant evaluation and scrutiny and rightfully so.
The Boston Bruins are sixth in the NHL at 21.1% and SJ at 20.4% are seventh in the league in PP percentages. The CBJ are 30th at 12.1%. They have also given up six shorthanded goals against. Winning the special teams battle will continue to separate the top and bottom teams of the league… statistical measurement is witnessed… we are not very good right now by the numbers… so now… it will be interesting to see how this aspect of team play evolves in the next few weeks.
*Throughout the season, AAA will bring you the Broadcaster's Blogs - "Davidge Dishes" and "Rimer Ramblings." The Columbus Blue Jackets radio and television analysts will try to keep you updated on all the season action through their blogs, especially when the Blue Jackets are on the road.