Photo: Chris Schneider/AP

The Columbus Blue Jackets’ season so far: 10 games, 1 win, 8 losses, 1 OTL, for a total of 3 (that’s “three”) points, and they’re 0-5-0 on the road.

I really should just stop right there and just save you the time, let the game speak for itself. This team sucks, and there’s precious little argument about that.

The only stories (spelled, ‘e-x-c-u-s-e-s’) behind their abyssmal start to the season are that the shout-from-the-rooftops off-season acquisition, former Philadelphia center Jeff Carter, was lost to a foot fracture barely a week into the season; and former Blackhawk and repeat-offender James Wisniewski, another big-money free-agent acquisition, managed to get himself suspended for the first 8 games of the season for a how-many-rules-can-you-possibly-break-in-one-check head-shot to Minnesota’s Cal Clutterbuck.

But perhaps the biggest reason for Columbus’ poor start is their continued, and downright foolish, faith in former Calder Trophy winning netminder Steve Mason. He followed his rookie season with two mediocre campaigns, and Mason is currently on a pace for his worst season as a pro. Any team that is serious about winning needs two things: dominant centers, and a dominant goaltender. Continuing to believe that Mason will — somehow, someday — return to his form of 2008-09 and backstop Columbus to serious contention is pure folly.

So as much as Columbus is falling apart, Chicago is starting to come together. With a 5-2-2 record the ‘Hawks lead the Central division, and a win tonight would put them in a tie with Dallas and Edmonton for the Conference lead.

Now: it’s early, and the deck is stacked. Only 3 teams in the West have a losing record (including Vancouver — BWAAAAHAHAHAHAHA!!!), and all but 3 teams are within 5 points of the Conference lead. So I wouldn’t go making your life-size model of the Stanley Cup out of poster board and tin foil just yet.

Especially after last night’s effort against Carolina, where a respectable barrage of shots couldn’t solve the Hurricanes’ goaltender Cam Ward. When all but 3 Blackhawks skaters get at least one shot on goal, but we still can’t dent the twine, that’s a problem that needs attention. Somebody in the Blackhawks’ brain trust needs to start thinking about how to go around goaltenders when you can’t go through them.

Still, it’s good to see Chicago gel as well as they have, given the large number of players coming on board from the off-season. There is still work to be done, and some players are still searching for their place on the squad. But as that happens, this team will turn from good to excellent, and perhaps to dominant.

One quick note: any lingering doubts about the Patrick Kane-Marian Hossa-Daniel Carcillo line were erased by 21,000 fans going ’round the bend after witnessing Kane’s now-legendary “spin-o-rama” pass to Marian Hossa, which he buried with a one-timer past Anaheim goaltender Jonas Hiller on Tuesday. Putting Kane as Hossa’s set-up man at center seemed ludicrous at first; now it smacks of mad-scientist brilliance. Seeing Kane at the face-off dot took some getting used to, but it’s evident that this is a change for the better, and one that will pay big dividends for the Blackhawks.

Administrative nonsense: the Blackhawks are all healthy and (as of now, see note below) have no roster changes for tonight; the same cannot be said for the Blue Jackets. Two backup goaltenders and five skaters are all in triage, the afore-mentioned Jeff Carter the most important among them. Ray Emery gets a shot at boosting his stock with the start tonight for Chicago; Columbus will start Mason — but if we manage to chase him, his backup for tonight is 22-year-old Allen York, a veteran of 2 minutes and 33 seconds of NHL play (which came five days ago).

7:30pm start at the United Center this evening. WGN channel 9 has the TV coverage; WGN AM-720 for broadcast radio; XM subscribers, tune in to the game on channel 207; Sirius Premiere customers will find the game on channel 216.

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Blackhawks’ winger Daniel Carcillo broke his non-violent streak Friday night with a push from behind that sent Carolina defenseman Joni Pitkanen sliding into the end-boards. There was no penalty called on the play, but the maneuver drew the attention of NHL Commandant Brendan Shanahan. Having seen the play reviewed in detail several times, suspending Carcillo for that hit would further entrench Shanahan’s standing as a complete joke. There will be a disciplinary hearing, and a ruling, before the start of the game tonight.

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