After a poor run of about three weeks, the Blues have snapped out of their mid-winter slump. They’re riding a five game winning streak and are starting to put a little bit of space between themselves and the rest of the Central Division.
Here’re the standings as of Thursday morning:
That’s a tight squeeze between the top three, and recently second place has been a see-saw between the Stars and Avs.
The Blues need to keep an eye in their rear-view mirror, but at who?
The Stars are in town on Saturday night, and it’s a game that I strongly suggest that you grab tickets for. The potential for playoff seeding is nuts. It’s the third time this month that the Blues will be playing the Stars, and so far they’re 1-0-1. Another win puts two more points of space between the two teams. This is also the last time that the Blues will be playing the Stars, so winning now can bank points, but they also have to worry about creating wiggle room to mitigate Stars wins that are out of their control.
The Blues and Avalanche have one more game to fight for two points, but that game’s the last one of the season. The last time that these two teams had a season’s final game with playoff implications, the Blues lost and missed the playoffs by a point. That more than likely won’t happen this year, but it could well be a loss and the Blues miss first seeding by a point.
It becomes a matter of taking care of business now, or taking care of it later.
Either way, there won’t be any business to take care of if the Stars and Avalanche put together a good home stretch if the Blues slip. If you look at the remaining strength of schedule for each of them, it’s very similar - and a lighter stretch than the Blues’. There’s a chance that either team can get on a hot streak against weaker opponents.
The trick is this, then: the Blues need to take care of their own business and avoid a stretch of play like the one they’ve finally snapped out of. You can crunch numbers and analyze all that you want to, but at the end of the day the Blues’ playoff positioning is, has, and always will be of their own accord. Either team is dangerous, and neither team will play each other again for the rest of the season.
If the Blues play their cards right, none of this matters. If they don’t either team is a possibility to overtake them, and if it’s a choice between dealing with the Avs or Stars, or whoever the second wild card is (right now, that distinction falls either the Predators, Jets, to the Coyotes), I’ll take the second wild card any day.
Unless it’s Nashville. I’d rather not.