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Blue Jackets used holiday break to “clear our brains a little bit”

Dec 26, 2011, 5:13 PM EDT

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Scott Arniel Getty Images

Say this about Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Scott Arniel — he’s really good at keeping positive. Scary good, even.

The BJs entered the Christmas break on arguably the worst note imaginable (which is saying something, given their entire season has been a collective sour note.) They blew leads of 4-1 and 5-2 to Nashville, surrendering the winning goal with 8.4 seconds left. That was Columbus’ fourth loss in a row and fifth in its last six.

Yet Arniel managed to find the silver lining of going into the break on such a downer.

“It was a chance to get away and clear our brains a little bit,” he told NHL.com. “We can’t dwell on what’s happened and we’ve got to move forward. We’ve seen some of those ugly games happen, but we have to take responsibility for it and we have to find a way the next time we’re in that position to get a better result.”

Regardless of what happens to Arniel this season — and hey, he outlasted five other coaches this season, so he’ll always have that! — he should be applauded for how he’s handled adversity. Arniel’s managed to take the high road on a number of incidents: He’s rarely ripped his team or players publicly, didn’t address rumors that he was going to be replaced by Ken Hitchcock and refrained from firing back at player agent Alan Walsh after Walsh tweeted “this coach has a history of burying players and using them as scapegoats to mask his own lack of success on the ice.”

In a related story, Arniel will go back to Steve Mason in goal tonight against the Blackhawks. Backup Curtis Sanford has predictably returned to earth (he was on the hook for all six goals against Nashville) and is dealing with back spasms, forcing Mason into duty.

The last time he played, Mason allowed five goals on 33 shots in a loss to St. Louis.

Deep breaths, coach. Deep breaths…

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