The Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues are on the outside looking in at the Stanley Cup Playoffs in their respective conferences entering their game at Scottrade Center in this week's Wednesday Night Rivalry game (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV).
The Red Wings (26-26-10) are seven points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference, but have won two games in a row. The Blues (34-26-4) were among the top three teams in the Central Division for most of the season, but are two points behind the Anaheim Ducks for the second wild card in the Western Conference. They are seven points behind the Minnesota Wild for third place in the Central after losing 8-3 at Xcel Energy Center Tuesday.
With less than six weeks remaining in the regular season, the stakes are high for each team.
Here are 5 reasons to tune in:
Teams chasing a playoff spot have little margin for error. That's especially true when most of your remaining games are on the road. This is the second of a five-game road trip for Detroit; the Red Wings come home to play the Western Conference-leading Vegas Golden Knights on March 8, then play five more on the road, including three in California. The Blues hit the road for two weeks; St. Louis plays at the Dallas Stars on Saturday before heading to California for three in a row. The Blues play 10 of their final 17 after Wednesday on the road.
Howard is Detroit's unquestioned No. 1 goaltender now that Petr Mrazek has been traded to the Philadelphia Flyers. He's played all four of Detroit's games since the trade on Feb. 19, and is coming off back-to-back weekend victories in which he allowed a total of three goals in two games. Howard will have to continue that kind of play for the Red Wings to have any chance to make the playoffs.
Video: DET@NYR: Howard robs Kreider with terrific glove save
Detroit's captain is one of the few links to the Red Wings' last Stanley Cup-winning team in 2008. Zetterberg doesn't score the way he did when he was younger, he has 42 points (nine goals, 33 assists) in 62 games, but he's still among the NHL's smoothest skaters and smartest players.
Just about the only good news for the Blues in the loss at Minnesota was that Tarasenko scored twice after managing a total of three goals in the first 12 games since the All-Star break. Tarasenko has scored 116 goals in the past three seasons and had 21 in 51 games before the All-Star break. Tarasenko's 26 goals lead the Blues, who need him to get on a roll.
Video: SJS@STL: Tarasenko buries loose puck for PPG
St. Louis has struggled to score during its seven-game losing streak; the three goals against the Wild came after back-to-back 4-0 losses to the Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators. But goaltenders Jake Allen and Carter Hutton haven't picked up their teammates. Allen was pulled Tuesday after allowing three goals on eight shots in the first period, but Hutton allowed five more in the final two periods. One of the two need to step up and help the Blues get things turned around before it's too late.