A trip to Colorado is precisely what any respectable physician would prescribe for a slumping NHL team this season. After dropping five straight games, the Blues showed up in Denver for its game against the Avalanche Sunday–which is basically all that is required of a team to earn a win against Colorado.
The Blues beat the Avs 3-0 thanks to goals from Paul Stastny, Kyle Brodziak and Patrik Berglund, to go along with a fine performance by goaltender Jake Allen. But no matter how flawlessly St. Louis executed its gameplan, there isn’t much to glean from the outcome.
To say the Avalanche have been pathetic this season does not fully illustrate their on-ice incompetence. Colorado’s 37 points are by far the worst of any NHL team, with only the Arizona Coyotes joining Colorado below the 60-point threshold (Arizona has 53). It isn’t pretty.
If the Blues had lost the game, which took place on the road but in front of a solid contingent of Blues supporters, it would be easy to dismiss St. Louis as unworthy of a berth into the playoffs. While the Avalanche have nothing left to play for but their decidedly depleted pride, the Blues are teetering on the edge of the eighth seed in the Western Conference. Even after dealing Kevin Shattenkirk before the trade deadline, the Blues are still positioned to be among the 53% of NHL teams to make the bracket.
Sunday’s win puts St. Louis back in a playoff spot at 69 points in 64 games, with the Kings in ninth at 68 points in 65 games. While games against basement dwellers serve as no indicator for how the Blues may perform in stiffer tests against winning clubs, these games are the low-hanging fruit that should vault the Blues into the postseason.
Of their 17 remaining games after Sunday’s win, the Blues are treated with the Avalanche on their schedule three more times. They’re also slated for a trio of games against the Coyotes, who, as previously mentioned, are also bad, but less bad than the Avs.
Still, that’s six games against the least intimidating opponents the league has to offer. A seventh comes against another last-place team in the Hurricanes, who are currently last in the Eastern Conference standings.
Sure, the Blues will face their share of contenders the rest of the way–a road showdown with the Kings next Monday looms large–but they need only to tread water in those contests if they take care of business against the lesser opponents.
The Mike Yeo era began with a bang and six straight wins, but the Blues’ play more than regressed to the mean in their five subsequent losses prior to Sunday. Which Blues team is more representative of their true abilities? Do the Blues have enough talent to sneak into the playoffs over the next month or so?
Even if they don’t, their schedule might be enough to get them in, anyway.
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