It's now or never for Blues' playoff hopes -

It's now or never for Blues' playoff hopes

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How badly do they want it?

If you look at the effort in the Blues’ most recent couple outings, not nearly badly enough. And those stumbles—a 6-0 beatdown at the hands of the lowly Coyotes and a 4-2 home-ice collapse against a Capitals team that had nothing left to play for—may ultimately be the Blues’ undoing this season. But they don’t have to be.

Not if the Blues choose right now to make a statement that they’re better than what they’ve shown over the last week with the season on the line. That opportunity still remains thanks to similar stumblings of the team St. Louis is chasing for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference. The Colorado Avalanche (93 points) have also dropped two in a row, and sit just one point ahead of the Blues (92). The Ducks sit at 95 points, mathematically within reach, but it would take a lot for the Blues to catch them, so let’s focus on the Avs.

St. Louis still has a game in hand on Colorado. Wednesday night at Scottrade Center marks the first of two straight games against the Blackhawks, who have long been eliminated from playoff contention. The Avalanche only have two games total remaining for the year. One is against the playoff-bound Sharks. The other is against the Blues.

That’s right, opportunity continues to knock for the Note, and the schedule sets up favorably for the Blues to take advantage. But will they? Most prediction and odds services have St. Louis at slightly better than 50/50 odds to surpass the Avs before the season’s end. It’s certainly plausible that the final game of the season for both teams is a win-or-go-home affair in Denver.

But the Blues have every chance to make things easier on themselves and assert more control over their destiny. Even should Colorado win the two points in their tilt with the Sharks Thursday, the Blues can enter Game 82 with a lead in the standings by winning both their games with Chicago. Sure, the Blackhawks will be motivated to play spoiler to their longtime rival over the next two games, played Wednesday in St. Louis and Friday in Chicago. Shouldn’t the motivation to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs be far greater, though?

The Blues have everything to play for, still everything to lose. It’s up to them whether the playoff streak continues in St. Louis. The margin for error is gone; they can’t afford to come up empty-handed against Chicago. They can no longer afford to hinge their hopes on another team’s failures. They need to control their destiny. It’s now or never for the Blues.

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