The Columbus Blue Jackets climbed the standings during the first half thanks to a 16-game winning streak, but they've been a middling team since it ended, having gone 5-7-0 in their past 12 games while dropping two in a row before the All-Star break.
They'll look to get back on the winning track when they resume the second half of the season against the New York Rangers on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
In their past three games, the Blue Jackets have allowed 14 goals. During the 16-game winning streak, they gave up 28 goals.
"I don't know where you point your finger," Blue Jackets assistant coach Brad Shaw said after the team lost 4-3 to the Nashville Predators on Thursday. "I'd like us to be a little more resilient mentally and play through the other team's push you know is coming.
"We've kind of let the other team have their way, where 15-20 games ago we absorbed that, and we just kept on playing. It's something we obviously have to get back to and correct and be just a little bit mentally stronger."
Shaw took the head-coaching reins from John Tortorella, who left the team and skipped the NHL All-Star Game to be at home with an ailing dog. He's expected to return to face the Rangers, who have taken eight of the last nine against the Blue Jackets.
Just five points separate the teams in the standings, so now would be a good time for the Blue Jackets to remedy the issues that have plagued them since the end of their winning streak.
"I think when we start to see it go south on us we need to keep it a little more simple and not try to force things," Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones said. "You know we're all trying to do the right thing; we're all out there working. It's not a matter of effort, I don't think. Try to keep it simple and get through that period where they have their push.
"That is what we were so good at in the first half during that streak, teams that were pushing against us like they always would and we'd be able to sustain it without letting up a goal or two. We have to get back to that."
The Rangers are dealing with inconsistency of their own after a hot start.
Since starting 26-12-1, the Rangers are 5-5-0 and went into the break with a 2-0 home loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. The good news for the Rangers is Henrik Lundqvist, who had struggled for long stretches, has stopped 104 of 110 shots (.946) in the past four games.
If Lundqvist rediscovers that form in the second half, the Rangers like their chances.
"I still like what our team does night in and night out and we should have a lot of confidence in this team," Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh said. "We've got a stretch of home games here coming out of the break so that's a good opportunity for us to get back on a roll again and rest up here a little bit.
"But ultimately I like what our team's done and we're still in a good spot here as we continue to go on with the season."
The Rangers play nine of their next 14 games at home. If they don't take advantage of the schedule, they might find themselves fighting for a playoff spot down the stretch instead of a division title.
"It's such a competitive league where, in my estimation, there are no bad teams," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "And if you look at the standings right now, in our conference, everybody's still in, so you're going to have to get ready for every game and prepare yourself to go out and work hard and execute."
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