St. Louis Blues: 5 Biggest Games for Rest of the Season
The final stretch of the season is here. The Blues are currently sitting fifth in the standings and are doing everything they can to get to that fourth spot and home-ice advantage for the first round at least.
Thanks to streaky play, though, the Blues have to play great hockey down the stretch. There is no room for five-game losing streaks anymore. Goalies have to step up and not let the puck in. Defenseman need to block shots and not get caught in a change. Forwards need to backcheck and put the puck in the net in the offensive zone.
But with the Blues team, there is hope they will make the playoffs. If the team wins the big games, they will not only have great seeding but could also carry momentum into the playoffs. But the worst case scenario is to lose the big games, drop to a low seed and then face the big dogs.
These five games are the ones the Blues not only have to win, but fans should watch at any cost. Win these games, and the Blues should have a good road through the Stanley Cup playoffs.
March 28: Home vs. Los Angeles Kings
The Blues and Kings have had some great games of late, and the final regular-season game should have some fireworks. Not to mention the story lines of the final game.
First, the last time these two teams played, the Blues blew a three-goal lead. Coming into the third, the Blues were up two goals and let the Kings score four unanswered to win 6-4.
Second, the Kings are currently sitting fourth in the Western Conference, one spot ahead of the Blues. This game could be the precursor to a possibly very intense playoff match.
Which brings about the third and final storyline; the Kings swept the Blues last postseason. Blues fans are still not over it, and the Blues would love to get revenge and steal home-ice advantage away from the Kings.
The Blues will have to get used to playing in emotional, big games that mean a lot for both clubs, and games like that start with the Kings.
April 7: Away at Detroit Red Wings
This meeting against the Red Wings will be the fifth and final time the two teams meet in the regular season. The Blues have to establish themselves as one of the best in the Central.
This season, the Blues are 2-2 against the Red Wings. The first win was a 6-0 statement shutout in the season opener, and the second was an overtime win that snapped a five-game losing streak. The Blues have to win this game to grab the tiebreaker against the Red Wings if it comes to that.
Also, being the last meeting between the two clubs and the last meeting as divisional rivals, the Blues will want to show the Red Wings they are the better team. The Red Wings vs. Blues rivalry was great in the 90s and was picking back up recently. The Blues will want to get the last win as divisional opponents.
The Blues have to separate themselves from the rest of the Central Division, and it starts with a win in Detroit.
April 11: Away at Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blues should be very careful coming into this game; the Blue Jackets are a hot team and could be desperate to get into the playoffs.
Just like the Red Wings, the Blue Jackets will be heading East starting next season, and the Blues and Blue Jackets have an underrated rivalry. Whenever the teams play, there seems to be some chippy play and generally some fights. Playing in a game that gets chippy and physical like that, especially near the beginning of playoffs, can get a team into the playoff mentality.
Plus, if Columbus falls back down to earth and are not in a playoff position, the Blues need to take advantage of that. Getting into the playoffs is more about beating the teams you should rather than getting points against teams that have already grabbed a playoff spot.
The Blue Jackets will be the last game of a four-game road trip, right before the Blues play seven of their last eight at home. The Blues need to get points on the road, where the team has been better, and gain momentum for the final homestand.
April 21: Away at Colorado Avalanche
The Blues will play their final away game against the Colorado Avalanche, and there is no better opponent to face. Currently, the Avs are one of the worst teams in the league, and if that stretch continues, the Blues need to take advantage of it.
As stated earlier, the Blues need to take care of teams they should beat. Colorado is no exception. Because of the trade between the Blues and Avs, the two clubs are always compared when they play each other. The Blues have to show they are definitively the better team.
Secondly, the last time the two clubs played, Vladimir Tarasenko took a vicious hit from Mark Olver, which gave him a concussion and forced him to spend considerable time on the injured reserve list. The Blues will make sure that Olver and the Avalanche pay for knocking out the leading Calder candidate at the time.
The Blues will be facing the final four games when they travel to Denver, and the team will be focusing on gaining momentum for the playoffs. That momentum should begin by getting a statement win against the Avalanche.
April 27: Home vs. Chicago Blackhawks
The Blues and Blackhawks will meet three times in the month of April alone, but no matchup is more important than the final regular-season game.
The Blackhawks will most likely have the Central Division locked up at this point, barring a collapse that would make even the 2010 Boston Bruins cringe. Still, the Blues need to show the Hawks they are still the team to beat in the Central Division.
Facing the Hawks at home for the final game of the season will create an atmosphere possibly even better than the playoffs. Both clubs get to test their playoff squad against the best team in the Western Conference and will be able to make slight adjustments before the opening rounds.
Plus, there will undoubtedly be bad blood between the two teams at this point. A third game will just advance it, and if the two teams face each other in the later rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs, it could be one of the best series in history.
The Blues will want to beat the Blackhawks to end the season on a high note. The team will definitely have this game circled on the calendar, and they need to show up to get ready for the playoffs.