ST. LOUIS - With only three games remaining this season (and just two left for Dallas), the race to win the Western Conference remains wide open.
If the Blues beat the Arizona Coyotes tonight (7 p.m., FSMW, KMOX), they’ll find themselves tied with Dallas for first in the Central Division and the West with 105 points.
That’s exactly what the Blues have their sights set on.
“You work all year, you have a chance for first place, you want to keep going,” Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said before the Blues’ 5-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday night. “I think we’re still trying to pay attention to Dallas.”
As it stands right now, leaping over the Stars would mean the Blues will likely face the Minnesota Wild in the first round of the playoffs. Finishing second in the Central will more than likely provide a first-round matchup with the Chicago Blackhawks.
In order to win the Central, though, the Blues will need some help from the Avalanche or Nashville Predators, who will play the Stars later this week. The Blues cannot finish tied in points with the Stars, because Dallas owns the first tie-breaker (regulation and overtime wins).
Of course, the Blues can only improve their chances by collecting three more wins this week, beginning tonight against the Coyotes. The Blackhawks, who remain four points back, could still pass the Blues and take home-ice advantage in the playoffs if the Blues can't take care of their own business.
“We know what’s in front of us and we know what’s behind us. The biggest thing for us is we have to worry about ourselves,” Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “We know if we play the way we can, we’re going to put ourselves in good position. We’re going to make sure we’re going full speed going into the playoffs. Sometimes you can’t choose who you play, so we’ve got to take care of ourselves.”
The Blues announced Monday that captain David Backes and goalie Jake Allen will miss the rest of the regular season with lower-body injuries. Both players will be re-evaluated before the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
As for tonight's game, because the club arrived in St. Louis around 1:15 a.m. last night, they did not hold a morning skate at Scottrade Center. On Saturday, Hitchcock was non-committal about whether Robby Fabbri or Jay Bouwmeester could be available for today's game.
Hitchcock will address the media at 4:30 p.m., so we'll update you if he has any more news regarding injuries.
Brian Elliott will start tonight against the Coyotes. His career record against Arizona is 6-2-0 with a 1.99 goals-against average, .925 save-percentage and two shutouts. Since the All-Star break, Elliott has been lights out, posting an 11-1-1 record with a 1.72 goals-against average, a .939 save-percentage and four shutouts.
Paul Stastny is on a season-high-tying five-game point streak, scoring one goal and seven assists in that span. Since the All-Star break, the St. Louis native is averaging .89 points per game. Before the break, he averaged .68.
Colton Parayko’s 32 points this season is the fourth-most by a rookie defenseman in Blues history. In addition, his +26 rating is currently the best ever recorded by a Blues rookie defenseman.
Alexander Steen has a seven-game point streak against the Coyotes (four goals, seven assists).
FAN APPRECIATION WEEK SPECIALS
Fans are encouraged to stop by Section 114 before tonight’s game for the Blues for Kids Basement Sale. Get authentic jerseys, goal pucks, canvases and more. All proceeds will benefit Blues for Kids, the charitable trust of the Blues.
Fans can enjoy $1 off a regular hot dog and $1 off a souvenir soda by visiting concession stands before the game. In addition, popcorn will be available for $1 off during the first period.