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Everyone knows that the Columbus Blue Jackets are the last remaining NHL club that hasn't won a game in the 2011-2012 NHL season. They are five games into what was supposed to be the dawn-of-a-new-age-type year.
Things have been anything but new ageish.
In the team's defense, absolutely nothing has gone their way so far this year, but winners can shrug this kind of start off and put together some winning streaks.
The next few weeks will be very telling in Columbus. Management went out and spent money (the Jackets are currently the fifth highest spending team in the NHL) this offseason to put a winner out on the ice. We'll know a lot more about the DNA of this squad by the end of November—read: we'll see if the spending spree worked or pigeon holed the team with damaging long term deals.
By then James Wisniewski will have made his regular-season debut. By then Jeff Carter will be off the IR, as will backup goaltender Mark Dekanich.
The loss of Dekanich during the preseason was a bigger blow than I think most fans realize. Steve Mason was more than likely on a very short leash heading into this season—the team was Dekanich's for the taking. He's got a good pedigree, and he would probably be the starting netminder for the Jackets had he not been hurt.
So why would I say that this team will surprise the rest of the way?
Mostly because they have to.
At some juncture this squad is going to realize that they are much better than they think they are, and that the Columbus market is dying to embrace a winning team. The first win is going to be a huge sigh of relief, and reinforcements are on the way for the Blue Jackets.
And no matter what the cost—barring Rick Nash—they absolutely must find an acceptable, competent NHL level goaltender. They will never be a contending team no matter what kind of offensive prowess they wield while their goalie is allowing three or four goals a game.
Get Steve Mason out of there and replace him with a guy who can make a save or two, and you'll see the Jackets begin to climb out of the basement in the West.