St. Louis has had a rather successful start to the season as far as their record goes, but their play hasn’t been at the level it needs to for them to keep up their pace. With the toughest part of the year just around the corner the Blues will have to focus on playing a more cohesive game if they wish to return to the postseason.
The Blues sit second in the Central Division (21-11-4) with forty-six games remaining, trailing the Dallas Stars by eight points with Dallas having played one fewer game. St. Louis is ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks by only two points, making the Blues’ position even less solid. On the positive side, they’ve been winners in four of their last five games and six of their last ten, earning twelve of twenty possible points.
While their wins show testament to their strengths, their losses reveal their weaknesses. St. Louis has fallen to the Philadelphia Flyers twice in the month of December, including surrendering a three-goal lead Monday night to ultimately lose 4-3. That kind of a performance displays their tendency to sit back after establishing a large lead and it’s something to be mindful of moving forward.
Second place in the most difficult division in hockey is something to be proud of, but the Blues by no means have a commanding hold on their spot. The only way to preserve their place is to win and that’ll require solid play from throughout the line-up.
Big Tests Ahead
The Blues won’t have any easy games following the holiday as they return from Christmas with four straight games against Central Division foes.
St. Louis will first face the division-leading Stars twice this weekend with a home-and-home face-off where a big four points are up for grabs. As with all divisional match-ups each game is essentially worth four points as the winning team separates themselves from the loser by gaining two points their opponent no longer has the chance to earn.
The Blues will have to take the opportunity at hand to reduce gap between themselves and the leaders if they want to have a bumper for the challenging games ahead.
From there they’ll take on the Nashville Predators, who sit fifth in the Central six points behind the Blues with two games in hand. Finally they’ll host the Minnesota Wild who are trailing St. Louis by a mere four points with three games in hand.
Both the Predators and the Wild have skilled teams with goaltenders that are capable of stealing points, so St. Louis’ play in those match-ups will truly test the depth of this team.
The season will only get more difficult as time goes on and teams realize their playoff hopes are diminishing. Games will be tighter, scoring will be more challenging, and the battle wounds more evident. The Blues will have to fight through the inevitable low points of the season and keep their eye on the prize: making a return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.