To start work on this project, I built upon some database-oriented work that I've been doing in my "spare" time (basically, when the Dark Blue Toddler is sleeping). I've had a few lingering questions about the roster and, after learning a little more about Microsoft Access, think I now know enough about the program to start using it for CBJ purposes.
|It shouldn't be surprising that captain Rick Nash is Columbus'|
premier clutch goal scorer, but who are the rest? (Photo from tafhl.com)
All scorers aren't equal, though, and that's where my research lies. First, I catalogued every single goal scored by the Blue Jackets last season. Every goal was identified by date, opponent, home/away, game number, win/loss (and score), period scored, order of CBJ scoring by game (1st goal, 2nd goal, last goal, etc.), names of goal scorers and assists, empty net, shootout, power play, short-handed and penalty shot. It was a bit tedious in getting all the data organized, but it's gold to me now.
Perhaps most intriguing to me, however, was the inclusion of a unique characteristic for each goal: The score differential when the goal was scored. Why is this important? In my opinion, a goal is more important when the game is on the line. The goal scorer is the type of person you want on the ice when it's crunch time.
So I started playing with this data and think it's time to start sharing some insights as a personal "training camp" to get ready for the season previews.
We'll start with the clutch goal scorers. I define them as players who scored the last CBJ goal of the game (regulation or overtime) when (A) the game is tied (for the win), or (B) when the CBJ are behind by one (to get to overtime). It's a tight criteria, to be sure, but such a strict system of grading separates wheat from chaff really fast. In reviewing the data, the Columbus Blue Jackets' clutch scorers last season were:
- Rick Nash (1 game winner, 3 for overtime) - 4 games
- R.J. Umberger (2 winners, 1 for overtime) - 3 games
- Kris Russell (1 winner, 1 for overtime) - 2 games
- Kristian Huselius (winner), Rusty Klesla (winner), Freddy Modin (winner), Anton Stralman (overtime), Raffi Torres (overtime) & Fedor Tyutin (overtime) - 1 game each
|Kris Russell is the Blue Jackets' "young gun" - the guy you|
want with the puck in clutch situations (Photo from The Jacketsblog)
So those are the game-winners and goals that sent losing efforts into overtime. What about the other form of clutch goal scorer - the one who scores the CBJ's last goal of the game in the third period when the score is tied to take a one-goal lead or tie the game, only to see the team lose in regulation? In my mind, these scorers are just as clutch as they put the team in position to win. They are (1 game each): Grant Clitsome, Kris Russell, Antoine Vermette and Jake Voracek. This grouping pokes a hole in my "It takes veterans to win the close games" premise (You go, Kris!), but the fact that this happened only four times in 82 games probably says more about how the Jackets just weren't in too many dogfights last year.
One last thing on this post: Where is Derick Brassard's name? At all? At $3.2 million per year, don't you think that he should be scoring a money goal or two?
More stat-crunching to follow...hope you enjoy these windows into the team's roster!