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Game #63 – Hawks vs Blue Jackets Q&A: Alison Lukan, One Of The Athletic’s 163,000 Writers

Alison Lukan is the Jackets beat writer for The Athletic Ohio. Follow her on Twitter @AlisonL.

Last year the Jackets ended up with 106 points. This year they’re going to have to scrap to even make the playoffs. The difference can’t simply be the power play isn’t scoring on everything, right?
If you look at the underlying numbers, there are a few things. First, as you point out, the power play was horrible to start the year. It’s rebounded some, but it will never even out over the season due to their start. Now, the penalty kill is suffering and that’s hurting them. The most significant thing impacting this team is their ability to finish. Almost every player is experiencing a career low in shooting percentage and that means this group just isn’t scoring goals. For a group that averaged over 3 goals per game last year, they’re barely managing to stay at an average of 2. Also – with injuries on the blue line, they’ve been letting in a few more shot attempts against compared to previous years. This number has slowly increased over the course of the season too.
Sergei Bobrovsky started the year in Vezina form but has had a terrible February. What’s up there?
I think its two fold, he’s facing a higher volume of shot attempts against, and also he’s not getting a lot of run support from his team.
23 points out of Alex Wennberg wasn’t what everyone had in mind, was it?
In a word, no. While not an excuse, two important things to mention a) he missed 12 games due to injury and b ) how many points he had off of special teams last year and how poorly special teams have performed this season. Last season, two goals and 21 assists (literally half of his 56 points) came on the man advantage. He – like almost everyone else on the team – is also suffering from a career low shooting percentage.
Where does this end with Jack Johnson? He’s obviously walking so should the Jackets cash in before the deadline?
Reports just came out Thursday that the Jackets have circled back to Johnson with an extension offer. Before that, I was more than a little bit sure that the team would move him at the deadline and reap what they could in trade value versus lose him for nothing. There are reports the Jackets offered $22MM-plus over seven years this off-season and the player didn’t bite at that, so I’d wager this is one final test to see if Johnson is willing to stay at the price the Jackets think he’s worth – if not, Kekalainen is likely looking to make a trade.
Do the Jackets make the playoffs when all is said and done?

If they make some moves at forward at the deadline, yes.


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