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Winter meltdown

Rick Nash leads the Blue Jackets in both goals (18) and points (35).(Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Rick Nash leads the Blue Jackets in both goals (18) and points (35).(Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

What has Rick Nash signed up for?

When the Columbus Blue Jackets got Nash to commit to an eight-year contract last summer, it was just another indication the team was finally, truly heading in the right direction.

Turns out it was also the last one.

After making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history last season, life has been more miserable than ever in Central Ohio, mostly because a return post-season date was the minimum expectation for the Jackets this year.

But everything has gone wrong in Columbus. Goalie Steve Mason has such a bad case of the sophomore blues B.B. King probably feels sorry for him; lynchpin defenseman Rostislav Klesla is out long-term with groin and abdomen tears and Derick Brassard – who had a promising rookie season derailed 31 games in by shoulder surgery last year – has just four goals this time out.

The Jackets have lost six in a row and have been outscored 11-1 in first periods over their past seven contests, something that smacks of a lack of preparation and intensity you’d never expect from a Ken Hitchcock-coached team.

Then again, who saw any of this coming in Columbus?

THE HOCKEY NEWS POWER RANKINGS
RK.
TEAM
LW
OVERALL
L10
THE SCOOP
1
Pittsburgh Penguins
4
25-10-1
8-1-1
Would you believe this team has the league's worst power play at 14.3 percent?
2
New Jersey Devils
2
25-8-1
8-2-0
Even though things are going well, coach Jacques Lemaire split up Travis Zajac and Zach Parise in an effort to spread out the scoring
3
Chicago Blackhawks
7
23-8-3
7-2-1
Cristobal Huet's numbers are getting right up there with the league's elite these days
4
Washington Capitals
2
22-8-6
7-3-0
Tomas Fleischmann has seven goals in his past nine games, continuing his development as an offensive threat
5
Los Angeles Kings
3
22-12-3
7-2-1
Scuttlebutt is Drew Doughty just may push his way onto Team Canada's defense corps
6
Nashville Predators
12
22-11-3
7-1-2
Lots of talk about Pekka Rinne's development, but Dan Ellis has been good in the Preds crease, too
7
Buffalo Sabres
6
21-10-3
6-3-1
Thanks mostly to Ryan Miller, the Sabres are 9-4 in one-goal games this season
8
San Jose Sharks
5
20-8-7
4-3-3
Devin Setoguchi takes advantage of being re-united with Joe Thornton by snapping a 10-game goal drought
9
Colorado Avalanche
8
20-11-6
6-3-1
As Ryan O'Reilly struggles with no points in 13 games, Matt Duchene puts up 10 in his past 10
10
Phoenix Coyotes
10
21-13-2
7-2-1
Goal-scoring a real concern as captain Shane Doan has managed just six points in his past 20 games
11
Calgary Flames
9
20-11-4
4-5-1
After a 10-2-2 November, Flames have 18 goals in nine December games and a 3-5-1 record
12
Ottawa Senators
16
18-13-4
5-5-0
Mostly thought of as a two-way 20-goal scorer, Mike Fisher is on pace for 36 goals and could hit 70 points
13
Dallas Stars
13
15-9-11
4-2-4
Defensive stalwart Karlis Skratins has first two-goal game of his career in big 4-3 win over Detroit that tied the teams in eighth place with 41 points
14
Vancouver Canucks
15
20-16-0
6-4-0
Mason Raymond is one of the West's most exciting players and is providing much-needed secondary scoring
15
Minnesota Wild
18
17-15-3
7-3-0
Haven't heard many stories stranger than the Wild's equipment van catching fire
16
Boston Bruins
11
16-11-7
4-3-3
Killing penalties at a league-best clip of 87.1 percent
17
Florida Panthers
25
15-15-7
4-3-3
Did well to earn points in five of six games, including four wins, in eight-day stretch
18
Atlanta Thrashers
17
18-13-3
4-6-0
Chased Martin Brodeur from the net after scoring three goals on first six shots of the game, then go on to lose 5-4 at home
19
Detroit Red Wings
14
18-13-5
5-4-1
Amazing this team is doing as well as it is given the unthinkable string of injuries its dealt with
20
Anaheim Ducks
24
14-14-7
4-3-3
Jonas Hiller has won his past three starts, allowing just five goals on 107 shots
21
Toronto Maple Leafs
19
13-16-7
6-4-0
Have to feel good for rookie goalie Jonas Gustavsson, who got his first NHL shutout on Saturday after enduring two minor heart procedures this season
22
Montreal Canadiens
21
16-18-3
4-5-1
Jaroslav Halak has shown more game-stealing capabilities than Carey Price of late
23
New York Islanders
22
13-16-7
3-7-0
Tied for third on the team in goals, Josh Bailey hasn't scored since Nov. 27
24
St. Louis Blues
23
15-14-5
5-5-0
Big win over Vancouver on Sunday, but the Blues haven't won back-to-back games in regulation since beating Detroit twice to kick off the season in Sweden
25
New York Rangers
28
16-16-3
3-5-2
Thank goodness for Henrik Lundqvist, who has let in 15 goals in eight December games, but has only three wins to show for it
26
Edmonton Oilers
20
15-16-4
5-4-1
Just as it looked like they were turning it around thanks to a five-game winning streak, Oilers lose three in a row and blow a couple of two-goal leads
27
Philadelphia Flyers
27
15-17-2
2-7-1
Jeff Carter looked like a 50-goal scorer coming into this year, but he'll do well to get half that many
28
Tampa Bay Lightning
29
12-14-9
2-7-1
Will Mattias Ohlund have his Swedish passport revoked for taking out countryman Henrik Zetterberg with a hard, clean hit last week?
29
Carolina Hurricanes
30
9-20-6
4-5-1
Next win brings season total to double-digits
30
Columbus Blue Jackets
26
14-15-7
1-6-3
Two wins in their last 16 trips to the ice


The THN Power Rankings will return Jan. 4.

The Hockey News ranks the teams 1-30 each Monday based on a combination of last week’s play and a squad’s overall outlook.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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