Facing the unbeaten Detroit Red Wings might not present the ideal opportunity for the Columbus Blue Jackets to earn their first win of 2011-12.
The Red Wings look to prolong the worst start in Blue Jackets' history by opening their own season with a fifth consecutive victory Friday night at Joe Louis Arena.
While Detroit (4-0-0) is off to its best start since the 1997-98 season that concluded with a Stanley Cup celebration, Columbus (0-5-1) has lost 12 straight games since beating Florida 3-2 in a shootout March 29.
The NHL's only winless team, the Blue Jackets have just one regulation win in their last 28 games.
"You can hang your head and feel sorry for yourself, but nobody else in the league is going to feel sorry for you so you better keep throwing that effort out there," Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel said.
Columbus likely will need a huge effort against Detroit, which has won 10 of the last 13 meetings. The Blue Jackets, however, snapped a five-game skid at Joe Louis with a 3-0 victory Feb. 4.
Scoring that many goals might be considered a major accomplishment for the Blue Jackets, who have tallied two goals in each of their six contests this season. Columbus also has struggled mightily on the power play, going 2-for-30 in that situation.
Both power-play goals have come over the last two contests.
"We've got to worry about what we're doing rather than the opposition," star forward Rick Nash told the Blue Jackets' official website. "But we still have to create more offence, through taking a lot of shots and generating scoring chances. The next step is we have to bear down and bury them."
Columbus held a 40-18 shots advantage but fell 3-2 at home to Dallas on Tuesday.
"You'd think with [a season-high] 40 shots you're going to get more than two," Arniel said. "We've got to find a way to get more goals."
Nash has two goals with four assists this season but has one and three assists in his last 10 games versus Detroit.
Steve Mason, who has posted a 3.35 goals-against average while starting every game this season, stopped 34 shots in the Blue Jackets' shutout victory at Detroit in February.
Johan Franzen, who has three goals with six assists in his last 10 games against the Blue Jackets, scored at 4:11 of overtime Saturday to give Detroit a 3-2 victory at Minnesota. Franzen had a goal with an assist in that game and has recorded all four of his points this season over the last three contests.
Trying to win their first five games for the first time since opening with six consecutive victories in 1972-73, the Red Wings have outscored their opponents 13-5 through four games.
Jimmy Howard has allowed all five goals in three starts and faced just 14 shots against the Wild last weekend. He is 7-1-1 with a 1.61 GAA in 10 career starts versus Columbus.
Tough goalie to beat
Jimmy Howard is off to a strong start in the Red Wings' net, winning his first three starts and posting a 1.63 goals-against average and .930 save percentage. Listed below are the four players to beat him this season.
|Oct. 7||Senators||Milan Michalek (2), Filip Kuba||W 5 -3|
|Oct. 13||Canucks||—||W 2-0|
|Oct. 15||Wild||Greg Zanon, Cal Clutterbuck||W 3-2|