Times columnist Helene Elliott rates the pluses and minuses in the NHL from the previous week:
+ The Blackhawks started this month 2-1-4 before they pulled together for a 4-2 victory over the Ducks on Friday, ending the Ducks' eight-game winning streak. The defending Stanley Cup champions followed that with a 3-2 shootout victory over Boston on Sunday, a rematch of last season's Cup final. The Blackhawks have one regulation loss in their last 16 games (9-1-6).
+ After a rocky first half, the Columbus Blue Jackets are hitting stride with a six-game winning streak, matching a franchise record. Through Sunday's games they held the second East wild-card playoff spot, just ahead of Detroit and Washington. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has won five straight games since returning from a groin injury.
+ In his last eight games, New York Rangers left wing Rick Nash has scored seven goals — as many as he had in his first 26 games. A concussion contributed to his early woes, and he has revived playing alongside center Derek Stepan and wing Chris Kreider. He scored twice Sunday in the Rangers' 4-1 victory over the Washington Capitals.
- Boo to the canoe.ca blogger who selected old tweets from California-born Jen Scrivens — wife of former Kings goaltender Ben Scrivens — to imply she's a brat who won't like Edmonton, where her husband was traded last week. She's accustomed to winter after living in Ithaca, N.Y., and Toronto, and she said nothing derogatory about the city. The supposedly tongue-in-cheek blog, which echoed an earlier piece on the Sporting News' website, was unfunny and unwarranted.
- The Washington Capitals are sinking fast. They've lost five straight games and were outscored, 9-2, by the Blue Jackets and New York Rangers in the last two. Their defense is porous and their goaltending has been unreliable. With this much talent they should be in better shape.
- Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne, out since Oct. 22 because of a hip infection, apparently isn't returning soon. The Predators acquired Devan Dubnyk from Edmonton last week as insurance, but he lost his debut, 5-4, last Friday against Colorado.firstname.lastname@example.org