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Wild at Blues preview: Late season must win

The Blues are in a fight for a playoff spot, and a victory tonight would go a long way to securing one.

Minnesota Wild v St Louis Blues Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images

Right now, the Blues are a single point behind the Minnesota Wild with one more game played. There’s probably no catching the Colorado Avalanche barring their historical collapse, which isn’t happening, so if the Blues want home-ice advantage in the postseason, they’re going to have to finish second in the division.

To do so, they need to continue their strong play against Minnesota this season. The Blues have two games remaining against the Wild, tonight and next Saturday afternoon, and have one game under their belts against them - a 6-4 Winter Classic victory on January 1st. That means that the Blues haven’t seen the Wild since the trade deadline, and they’re a slightly stronger - and better - team now than they were on January 1st. They beefed up goaltending by acquiring Marc-Andre Fleury (one could argue that they saved him) from the Chicago Blackhawks. They also added Nicolas Deslauriers, Tyson Jost, and Jacob Middleton on March 21st.

One can argue that those aren’t earth shattering deals, and that may be so, but it shored up a few weak spots of concern for the Wild and gave them a goaltender that plays to win, even when he’s stuck on a team where wins don’t come. The Blues, of course, shored up their defense a bit at the deadline with Nick Leddy before promptly losing Torey Krug to injury.

The Wild may be without a key player tonight thanks to injury. Defenseman Matt Dumba left Tuesday evening’s game against the Nashville Predators with an upper-body injury and did not practice yesterday.

It’s not known if the Blues will be facing Fleury or Cam Talbot tonight, but either way it could be a challenge. There’s no comparing either goalie - or the Wild - to Arizona and Seattle, which means that it’s going to be tough for the Blues to swing four or five goals tonight. Luckily you don’t need to get four goals every time to win a hockey game. If the Blues can play smart defense, especially against Kirill Kaprizov and Minnesota’s five other 20 goal scorers, there’s no reason that they shouldn’t be in possession of second in the Central by the end of the night.