Columbus Blue Jackets Finally Split Johnson and Savard

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 11: Jack Johnson
DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 11: Jack Johnson /

After a rough start to the season, the Columbus Blue Jackets have finally split up Jack Johnson and David Savard.

O, the difference one season can make. After being the best defensive pairing for the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2016-2017, the pair of Jack Johnson and David Savard has finally been split up in the 2017-2018 season. Their play this year is warranted a shift in partners for a long time but Tortorella waited to make the change until now.

And it’s hard to blame him. The two played so well together last year. They were the shutdown pair that complemented the top pair of Seth Jones and Zach Werenski that were offensive juggernauts.

Savard and Johnson were a combined +55 on the year last year. That incredible number is even more dumbfounding when you consider that Savard and Johnson were a pure defensive pair. They started in the defensive zone more often that any on the entire roster. Savard started his shift in the defensive zone 58.1% of the time while Johnson was at 60.3% of his starts.

The two still controlled play though and had impressive corsi for percentages. Johnson at a 48.7% corsi for with 60% of his shifts starting in the defensive zone is fantastic for a defenseman. Savard’s corsi was even higher at 50.6%.

This year the two have fallen off and are a combined -4. Their corsi’s are both down and all of this is in spite of them starting less of their shifts playing defense than last year.

The Split

With their poor play dragging the team down a change needed to be made. An often speculated move was to split up Seth Jones and Zach Werenski so opposing coaches had to figure out how to deal with two of the top ten defenseman in the league for over 70% of a game.

But Tortorella opted to put Savard with Scott Harrington and Johnson with Markus Nutivaara. We will surely need more than one game to judge the splitting and how it will help the defensive corp moving forward. It will change again soon as Ryan Murray is skating and is expected to return soon. But for now I would expect Savard and Johnson to remain split.

Next: Team USA in Columbus

The Jackets need more than just the top pair to control play from the back end for this team to make a serious run and the pair of Savard and Johnson wasn’t getting the job done. The split gives the Jackets some new options, and new hope, for the second and third pairs.