Yesterday we graded the Columbus Blue Jackets offensive performance in November. Today, we break down the defense.
The month of November was a solid showing for the Columbus Blue Jackets. They posted a record of 9-3-2 and are just a point out of first place in the Metropolitan Division. That fantastic record was fueled more by a stellar offense then a stout defense.
Sure the Jackets only allowed 36 goals in 14 games. A 2.57 goals against average is an above average showing. But the defense wasn’t the main reason why the Jackets had a solid goals against average.
The main reason was Sergei Bobrovsky bailing out a defense that allowed far too many high danger shots in certain games. According to NaturalStatTrick.com, the Columbus Blue Jackets had the third highest save percentage against high danger shots at 87.25%. The Jackets also had the ninth lowest high danger scoring chances in the month of November as they only had 46.31% of the high danger chances in their games.
Columbus Blue Jackets
That is a big red flag for the defense that is supposed to be a big strength of this team. With Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, David Savard and Ryan Murray, the team has a stable of blue liners that should be able to control the puck and shut down teams scoring chances.
But there were issues with some of the defensive pairs, most notably Zach Werenski and Scott Harrington. The two played together for most of November and it just didn’t work. The pair has been split up since then.
The biggest reason why the defensive grade for November is going to be low is because of the play of the forwards. There are lines that don’t play a lick of defense and it is costing the team dearly. A handful of forwards have been scratched because of their lack of checking and that is likely to continue.
The top line of Panarin – PLD – Atkinson is fine defensively but not elite. They look fine though because they always have possession of the puck. Anderson – Jenner – Foligno is fine defensively but not elite.
The third line is a liability and that is where you see most of the healthy scratches. The fourth line has been fine but have made some huge defensive errors that have cost the Jackets points, most notably Lukas Sedlak‘s defensive error against the Leafs.
If we were to break this down by unit, the blue line would get a B+ but the forwards would get a C. As the Jackets continue to grow this season and work toward the playoffs, they need more defensive effort from their forwards.