Columbus Blue Jackets: Comparing 2017-2018 Start to 2016-2017

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 07: Artemi Panarin
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 07: Artemi Panarin /

The Columbus Blue Jackets are on fire to start the a 2017-2018 season, but how does it compare to the start of the 2016-2017 season, which seems so long ago?

The Columbus Blue Jackets have become known as a perennial slow starter, however the short sample we’ve seen this season makes it seem as if that reputation may be broken. Last season, the Blue Jackets started the season with a record of 2-2-1 and had 12 goals through the first five games. Compare that to this season’s starting record of 4-1-0 and it appears the Blue Jackets have become a brand new team compared to years past.

Columbus Blue Jackets
Columbus Blue Jackets /

Columbus Blue Jackets

So far the Columbus Blue Jackets have scored 16 goals, four more than at this point last season, while only giving up 11. Last year, they had given up 14 goals to this point. Both goals against and goals for are better than they were last season, which means the Blue Jackets are playing an all-around better game.

The odd thing about the change is that there haven’t really been that many changes to the roster, but there was one substantial one. It’s not surprising that there have been more goals for with the addition of offensive superstar Artemi Panarin, compared to the more defensive-minded Brandon Saad.

The other main subtractions besides Saad were William Karlsson, Sam Gagner and Scott Hartnell, however all three were no more than bottom-six players are this point in their careers. Pierre-Luc Dubois has taken Karlsson’s old role and Sonny Milano has done a fairly good job filling the void of Hartnell, albeit in a completely different style of play.

Special teams has taken the biggest hit compared to last season, as currently the Blue Jackets only have a 76.9% effective penalty kill and a 7.7% success rate on the power play. At this time last year, the Blue Jackets had an almost 95% effective penalty kill and a 50% effective power play.

Related Story: CBJ Face Power Play Problems

This is certainly a short sample size to this point, however it is clear that the Blue Jackets are a better team when it comes to 5v5 play. When it comes to special teams, on the other hand, it is a completely different story. I do expect these numbers to average out sometime in the near future and get a bit closer to last season’s, however it all lies on the special teams.