Three games. The Blues season is now three games long. Three games to decide if the team will make the postseason or wrap it up come Sunday afternoon. And even if they win all three games, they still need another team to lose a game in regulation or extra time to make the playoffs. Three stinking games.
This Blues season has been the most improbable in recent memory. In the past few seasons it was pretty easy to see that the team was not going to be competitive and would lose more (many more) than the team would win. Before that, the playoffs were pretty much a lock and the suspense was held in how quickly the team would be eliminated in the second season.
Blues fans aren't used to this kind tension over three and four weeks at a time where the Blues have been in nearly must-win games almost every time out. My bar bill and supply of Pepto can't take much more of this. And while I'll be nervous these last three games, there is plenty of reason to be optimistic, primarily because the Blues have a favorable schedule.
St. Louis is 3-0 against Phoenix this season. Last year the Coyotes swept all four games against the Blues, but these aren't your older brother's Winnipeg Jets. Since the trade deadline when they dumped players, the Yotes have actually gone 7-7-1, some of their best hockey of the season. Phoenix hasn't had a losing streak of more than two games since February. So they've got that going for them.
Shane Doan has 70 points. The next highest total belongs to Matthew Lombardi who has 43. Hell, Ed Jovanovski has 34 points and is fourth on the team in scoring. Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov has a losing record and a goals-against average near three a game. The Blues have an excellent chance of controlling this game from the start, something they need to do if they want to play past the weekend.
On Friday the Blues host their last regular season game and welcome the Columbus Blue Jackets to town. The Drinkscotch Center will be hopping with the playoffs on the line and a beatable team on the schedule. While the Blue Jackets have been in the playoff hunt much of the season, they've fallen to the brink of the standings. Entering action Tuesday, they're only four points behind St. Louis which is in ninth position. Columbus is 4-2-4 in the last 10 games. A loss at Chicago Tuesday combined with a St. Louis win and you have an incredible scenario come Friday.
The Blues end the regular season in Colorado, a team in total freefall mode and apparently tanking to improve the Avalanche's odds in the NHL Draft Lottery. Colorado has 66 points as of Tuesday morning, the worst in the Western Conference and tied for second fewest in the league. If the Blues can't beat the Avalanche, they simply don't deserve to play in the playoffs.
With only three games left, the Blues will need to have more points than Columbus, Anaheim or Nashville to extend their season. It's unlikely they'll own the first tie breaker (wins in regulation) over any of those teams, but if the Predators and Blues have the same number of wins (very possible), the Blues own the second tie breaker, better head-to-head record. With the Predators playing Chicago and Detroit this week, anything could happen.
There is a chance the Blues could win their next two games and clinch a spot in the playoffs before the final game of the season. There is a chance the Blues could win all three of their last games and still not make the playoffs. We'll know how it turns out after three games.
Bartender, better make mine a double.