In somewhat of a surprise, the Columbus Blue Jackets currently have the NHL’s most prolific power play. This coming from a team that was near last in just about every category a season ago. But this is a different Jackets squad, one that could be a difference maker come playoff time.
Looking at the team statistics from the 2015-16 season, take note that Columbus only scored on 43 of their 248 power play opportunities. That mark was good for 17.34 percent, just under the league average of 18.66.
It’s been a complete 180 in 2016-17, as Columbus has scored on 15 of their 53 power plays. Their 28.30 percentage is good for first in the NHL.
Here’s a stat that will blow your mind. The Jackets rank dead last in the NHL with only 53 power play chances. The next closest team is the Arizona Coyotes, who have secured 58 power play chances with only a 12.1 percentage. The Jackets are capitalizing on with a man advantage, exactly what you need to do to be a playoff-caliber team.
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What has made this Blue Jackets power play so effective is the contributions of some of the team’s younger stars. The first unit features Alexander Wennberg, a 22-year-old, and Zach Werenski, a 19-year-old, on its first unit. Wennberg sits among the league leaders in power play assists with nine. Werenski, a rookie, is fourth on the team with eight points.
While the young Jackets have done a stand-up job on the power play, a lot of the credit must also go to veterans Nick Foligno and Cam Atkinson, who both sit comfortably among the league leaders in power play points. Foligno, who seems to have bounced back from a dismal 2015-16 campaign, is among the league leaders in PP points with 10.
It’s rare that a team finish a season with a power play percentage as high as Columbus, but it’s not impossible. The key for the Blue Jackets is going to be the growth of both Wennberg and Werenski, and the leadership of Foligno. Those factors will go a long way in determining whether or not this power play dominance can continue.
There has been a lot of talk around Columbus regarding the success of the Jackets. It’s great that this team has found some life after such an abysmal 2015-16 season, and the power play has been key to that. If the Blue Jackets can maintain their high energy play, there is no telling how far they can go this NHL season.
Follow Daniel James Gentile on twitter @dgentleman9288