One of the great things about Twitter (which has some serious downsides) is that if you follow the right people, it’s kind of like watching the playoffs with a bunch of smart people. I was watching the Jackets-Pens game tonight and commented that I’d expected, early in the season, that Todd Richards would be the first coach fired this year. Columbus were a fun story last year but they were very much a percentages team with lousy possession numbers and Richards was hired by the old regime.
Early in the year, the Jackets seemed like the same thing. As the season went along though, they turned into a very good possession team. Here’s Extra Skater’s Fenwick Close (shots + missed shots when the score’s within one in the first two periods or tied in the third) chart for the Jackets this season:
You can see that Columbus hit a low point on November 30, 2013 at 45.5%. They finished at 50.8%, which required a 53.3% Fenwick Close from December 1 onwards. That’s an excellent number. To dig into this a little bit, I looked at the Fenwick Close for players with at least 100 Fenwick Close events both before and after November 30. Here’s what that gives me.
When I see something like this – a group of F, followed by a group of D, followed by a group of F, I tend to think that it’s the forwards with whom something changed. That really is an astronomical improvement for Anisimov, Jenner and Foligno. My suspicion when seeing data like this is to think that something changed with how Anisimov, Jenner and Foligno were told to play, although it’s worth mentioning that Jenner is a rookie and that could be a learning curve that we’re seeing as much as anything. Same’s also true of Ryan Murray’s impressive growth throughout the season.
In any event, if you’re looking for what changed when Columbus erupted following December 1, there’s your answer. A large part of their roster took off. It would be interesting to hear from some Columbus watchers as to whether there were big tactical changes or anything with the team – I’m inclined to suspect that there were.Email Tyler Dellow at email@example.com