Recent slumps by the Columbus Blue Jackets and Chicago Blackhawks are indicative of why they remain two of the NHL's worst teams.
Injuries certainly aren't helping.
The Blue Jackets, losers of four straight, may be without All-Star forward Rick Nash for a fifth straight game when they face the Blackhawks on Tuesday in a matchup of Central Division foes.
Nash, who was selected Saturday to be the only Columbus player in the All-Star game, has been out with a sore back. He is tied with Sergei Fedorov for the team lead with 13 goals and is second with 17 assists and 30 points.
Nash is listed as day-to-day, along with Fedorov (elbow) and defenseman Adam Foote (flu and back). Fedorov has missed three straight games and Foote has sat out the last two.
The Blue Jackets (16-24-5), whose 37 points are fewest in the Western Conference, haven't won since beating Anaheim 4-3 on Jan. 5. They earned 33 points in 21 games before their skid.
"Good teams fight through injuries all the time," Columbus forward Dan Fritsche told The Columbus Dispatch's Web site. "We've got to keep our heads up and keep going. We'll find out who's on board. We'll find out what kind of character this team has."
Ron Hainsey had the only goal for the Blue Jackets in a 4-1 loss to Nashville on Saturday night.
Columbus was outscored 6-1 in back-to-back losses to the Predators.
Blue Jackets forward David Vyborny has a goal and four assists in four games against the Blackhawks (17-22-6) this season. The teams have split the season series so far.
Vyborny leads Columbus with 28 assists and 38 points.
Chicago has lost six straight and is only three points better than Columbus for the worst record in the West.
On Tuesday, the Blackhawks are expected to be without defenseman and captain Adrian Aucoin for the third consecutive game due to a pulled groin. He suffered the injury Wednesday against Buffalo and didn't play Saturday at Detroit, and was placed on injured reserve before the Blue Jackets' 4-3 shootout loss to Minnesota on Sunday night.
To take Aucoin's place, Chicago recalled Cam Barker from Norfolk. Sunday's game was Barker's second in the NHL, and he scored his first goal.
Blackhawks forward Adam Burish has missed two straight games with an elbow injury. His status for Tuesday's game is uncertain.
Tuomo Ruutu and Martin Havlat also scored Sunday in regulation for Chicago, which hasn't won since beating St. Louis 4-1 on Jan. 2.
"It's tough to win in this league," coach Dennis Savard said after Sunday's defeat. "We made a couple mistakes that cost us, but obviously we played hard and if we do that every night, we'll win our share of games."
The Blackhawks are 1-7-1 in their last nine games, immediately following a 9-3-3 run after Savard took over as coach on Nov. 27.
Barker's goal snapped Chicago's 0-for-11 slump on the power play, and was the Blackhawks' third in 21 5-on-3 advantages this season. Chicago has only three power-play goals in its last 44 chances overall.
Havlat has two goals and three assists in three games against Columbus this season. He leads Chicago with 14 goals and 28 points.