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Blues at Avalanche Preview: Rough down the stretch

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No one’s going to cut the Blues any slack for the rest of the season.

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Colorado Avalanche Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Behold, April’s schedule:

Since it’s April 2nd, I’m assuming that no one’s looking at that and brushing it off. “Oh, what a wonderful cosmic joke! The Blues are playing only the teams ahead of them in the standings or sneaking right behind them?”

Yep, That’s it. That’s the joke - and that’s the Blues’ schedule down the stretch.

This weekend, the Blues get back-to-back games against the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs were widely predicted to be one of the top teams in the West Division and they have not disappointed. Right now they sit atop the division with 50 points, a whopping 12 points ahead of the Blues.

The Avs are 8-0-2 in their last ten games; the Blues are 2-5-3. That’s the kind of stretch lead to a separating of the curds from the whey, and that’s what happening in the West. The Blues are the fourth seed by one point, while Colorado, Vegas, and Minnesota pull ahead. The Blues are going to have to go on a tear down the stretch to stay competitive and if they want home ice in the playoffs, they’ll have to fight for it. Colorado did the Blues a favor by winning 9-3 against the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday night, but they won’t roll over tonight.

On the other hand, they’re 4-8-4 at home, and 12-5-2 on the road, so maybe finishing up the season as a third or fourth seed isn’t a bad idea.

Ivan Barbashev is probably returning for tonight’s game, bringing some much needed stability to the lines and an anchor in the best way. Colton Parayko, however, still isn’t ready yet.

The Blues and Avalanche haven’t seen each other since they split the first two games of the season. The Blues took the opener 4-1, while the Avs romped over the Blues 8-0 in game two. The Blues are playing with a healthy Vladimir Tarasenko now, but as well as Tarasenko has played since his return, he’s not going to fix whatever’s wrong with this team.

A healthy Parayko, on the other hand... well, he probably wouldn’t fix it entirely, but he’d be a hell of a good start.