The Blue Jackets revealed their captain requested a trade last month, and that could make for an interesting reception Tuesday night when Columbus tries to prevent the banged-up Detroit Red Wings from retaking sole possession of the Central Division lead.
Nash was expected to be dealt from the league-worst Blue Jackets (18-37-7) before Monday’s deadline, which passed with the five-time All-Star still on the roster. Columbus’ only transaction during the day was acquiring two fourth-round draft picks and a minor leaguer from Vancouver for forward Samuel Pahlsson.
“The price (to trade Nash) was high,” general manager Scott Howson said. “And I don’t apologize for that.”
Howson, though, also said at a press conference Monday that his leading scorer came to him in January and asked to be dealt to another team.
“He obviously wants a change,” Howson said. “Obviously, we’re going to look at all of our options as we move forward. We’ll see what happens once we get around the draft in the summer.”
While Howson bides his time, Nash will try to lead the Blue Jackets to their second consecutive home win over Detroit (41-19-3). Columbus defeated the Red Wings 4-1 on Oct. 25 but dropped the two matchups at Joe Louis Arena.
This time, the Blue Jackets will face a Red Wings team that’s 0-2-1 since winning six straight, its longest skid since a season-high six consecutive defeats Oct. 22-Nov. 3. Detroit has also dropped three straight on the road and is 15-16-1 there this season - compared with a 26-3-2 record at home.
The Red Wings must try to turn things around without their captain. The 41-year-old Nicklas Lidstrom has been ruled out for Tuesday’s game and is day to day after injuring one of his ankles in Saturday’s 4-3 loss to Colorado.
The Red Wings dropped their second straight at home Saturday after winning an NHL-record 23 straight there. After giving up the game’s first three goals, they attempted to rally in the third period but couldn’t get the equalizer following Valtteri Filppula’s score with 5:07 remaining.
St. Louis took advantage to tie Detroit atop the Central with a 3-1 win in Calgary on Monday, but the Blues are idle until Wednesday.
“It’s unacceptable to play like that, to be as poor as we were,” coach Mike Babcock said. “We had a rally in the third period, but for two games - and probably for three - we haven’t had much energy.”
Filppula will try to help change that. He has a team-best five points against Columbus this season and 11 in his last nine matchups (five goals, six assists).
Jimmy Howard might also get the chance to continue his success against the Blue Jackets. The All-Star netminder is 9-1-1 with a 1.68 goals-against average lifetime against Columbus and has won both matchups this season.
Howard’s nine wins are tied for his most against any opponent.