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Blues, Wild seeking improved playoff position

by Louie Korac / NHL.com

WILD (46-27-8) at BLUES (50-24-7)

TV: NBC

ST. LOUIS -- Both the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues know they will be part of the Stanley Cup Playoffs when everything gets underway Wednesday.

Who they play and when is still to be determined.

The game Saturday between the Wild (46-27-8) and Blues (50-24-7) [3 p.m. ET; NBC] has more meaning for the Blues than it does Minnesota.

St. Louis still has a shot at the top seed in the Western Conference, but they need some help from the Arizona Coyotes, who play the Anaheim Ducks [9 p.m. ET].

The Ducks and Blues are tied with 107 points. The Ducks would clinch the top seed if they defeat the Coyotes in regulation or overtime. If they defeat the Coyotes in a shootout, the Blues would earn the tiebreaker with a non-shootout win. If the Ducks earn one point, they get the top seed if the Blues lose in any fashion.

The Blues will play the Wild without 5-6 guys that coach Ken Hitchcock said are "banged up" and could use a rest.

They will benefit from the return of Alexander Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko and Robert Bortuzzo from injuries.

With Minnesota being a potential Western Conference First Round matchup, Hitchcock said, "I don't think either team is gonna want to show a lot of cards. We're going to make some changes. We're going to sit some people who are a little banged up. I'm sure they're going to do the same thing. I don't think either team is interested in showing their hand. Just play the game and then as of Saturday night, we'll find out who the opponent is. I don't think there's going to be a lot of surprises from what they do and what we do. We've played them recently, but we're not going to show anything nor or we going to show any of the combinations we're going to work with."

The Blues' opponent will be either the Wild, the Winnipeg Jets or the Chicago Blackhawks.

With a win, the Wild can set an NHL record for consecutive victories on the road with 13. They tied the record Thursday in a 4-2 victory against the Nashville Predators.

Minnesota would clinch the No. 3 seed in the Central Division if it defeats the Blues in any fashion and the Chicago Blackhawks lose to the Colorado Avalanche in regulation.

Both teams will be sitting players out and line combinations will not be known until pregame warmups.

Minnesota's Devan Dubnyk and St. Louis' Brian Elliott will be the starting goalies.

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