The St. Louis Blues find themselves in the thick of things for the Central Division lead and the playoff picture itself. They have merely 29 games remaining in the regular season to show exactly how badly they want to compete for the Stanley Cup.
Western Conference Battles
Over the next two or so months St. Louis will face the challenge of hungry opponents in addition to fatigue from a lengthy season. The match-ups against Western Conference foes in particular, however, will prove the best test of the Blues’ strength moving forward.
St. Louis will take on their conference peers in 21 of their final 29 games, making success against them vital to best positioning themselves moving forward. They also have ten divisional games that could largely determine their final place come season’s end.
The Blues will have to take it one game at a time, but will have to take special note of the key match-ups against conference and divisional teams if they hope to head into the postseason on the right foot.
While the Blues, for the most part, just returned from a rather lengthy All Star Break, they’re still plagued with fatigue and lingering injuries from the immense amount of hockey they’ve played this season.
To aid in their efforts, St. Louis will have to take full advantage of their scheduled breaks ahead. The demanding month of February will require the Blues to push themselves and their bodies in order to succeed and rest will only benefit them in doing so.
Building On Wins
Complete efforts are hard to come by in the NHL and the Blues are fully aware of that fact. They, however, know what it takes to win and should put their full effort into seeking that level of play each and every night.
Last night the Blues started off the final stretch of the season on the right foot, beating the Central Division rival Nashville Predators 1-0. Blues goaltender Brian Elliott made 16 saves in the shutout victory that kept St. Louis on pace with the Dallas Stars who beat the Winnipeg Jets last night to earn two points as well.
One-goal games are increasingly common at the end of the season and it’s a bright spot that St. Louis came out on top last night. It also shows how much trust they have in Elliott as a back-up goaltender, which is a key component to any successful playoff team.
The Blues are off today, but will resume play again tomorrow as they host the San Jose Sharks in hopes of starting a winning streak for the month of February.
All of that said, the Blues are still fighting for a prime spot in the playoffs. They’re still looking to play each night to the best of their ability, while also managing to improve as the season progresses.
St. Louis has a tough road ahead of them and will certainly face adversity down the line, but they need not lose sight of what they’ve already worked so hard to earn.
Allison Scott is currently pursuing a journalism degree at the University of Missouri. She is passionate about the NHL and is a fan of both the St. Louis Blues and her hometown Dallas Stars. More articles by Allison can be found on Blackout Dallas where she covers the Stars. Follow Allison on twitter for more hockey and random tweets! @allisonnnscott