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Blues need win in season finale vs. Red Wings

by Brian Hedger

RED WINGS (38-28-15) at BLUES (52-22-7)


Last 10: Detroit 5-4-1; St. Louis 4-6-0

Season series: This is the final matchup between the Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues, who are in different conferences after being longtime rivals in the Central Division. The Blues won 4-1 at Joe Louis Arena on Jan. 20.

Big story: St. Louis is banged up and in a tailspin heading into the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Blues have lost five straight games and need at least a point to have a chance to pass the Colorado Avalanche for first place in the Central Division. Each team has 111 points, but the Avalanche own the tiebreaker going into Sunday. The Avalanche finish their season on the road Sunday evening against the Anaheim Ducks.

Detroit was assured of the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference when the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Florida Panthers 3-2 on Saturday

Team Scope:

Red Wings: Detroit's main goal is heading into its 23rd straight playoff appearance on a high note. It won't be easy because the Blues have ample motivation.

"It's always a tough matchup for us every time we play them, regardless of who's in and who's not for each team," Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said, according to "It's always a very tight game, pretty physical and of course they want to be feeling good going into the playoffs as well."

Forward Daniel Alfredsson (sore back) will not play Sunday, but he'll be ready for Detroit's first-round series against the Boston Bruins. Joakim Andersson will play in Alfredsson's spot at right wing on the third line. Center David Legwand didn't practice Saturday but is expected to play Sunday.

Blues: St. Louis is trying to keep a positive outlook, but things couldn't be much worse heading into the postseason. In addition to the five-game skid, they're besieged with injured forwards.

Patrik Berglund became the seventh regular forward to leave the lineup Friday after an apparent shoulder injury knocked him out of a 3-0 loss at the Dallas Stars. Forward Sergey Andronov was recalled Saturday from the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League as a reinforcement.

"Anybody that can play is playing; anybody that can't isn't," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of the season finale, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "We're playing that game to win and that's going to be our attitude."

Their playoff scenario breaks down simply. If the Blues win the Central, they will face the Minnesota Wild in the Western Conference First Round. A second-place finish sets up a first-round series against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

Who's hot: Red Wings rookie center Riley Sheahan has scored goals in back-to-back games, and rookie forward Tomas Jurco has three goals and one assist in his past six contests. ... Blues forward Jaden Schwartz has scored two goals in the past four games.

Injury report: St. Louis is missing Berglund (upper body) and forwards David Backes (foot), T.J. Oshie (upper body), Vladimir Sobotka (lower body), Vladimir Tarasenko (hand), Derek Roy (upper body) and Brenden Morrow (foot). ... The Red Wings have three players on injured reserve: captain Henrik Zetterberg (back surgery), defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (fractured finger/surgery) and forward Stephen Weiss (sports hernia surgery). Forward Daniel Cleary (knee sprain) is out indefinitely.

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