ST. LOUIS — As the NHL postseason gets closer, the race to the finish line gets tighter. With 15 games left in the Blues' regular season, St. Louis leads the Western Conference and central division with 90 points.
The Colorado Avalanche are one game back with 88 points. The Dallas Stars sit at third in the central with 82 points, which isn’t as far off as it may read.
Luckily, the Blues created a cushion for themselves in the first half of the season, or things wouldn’t be as pretty right now in the standings after an inconsistent three weeks following the NHL All-Star break.
For some, it may be good enough if the Blues simply make the playoffs on a high note, whether that be at first, second, or third in the central.
But for the Blues, winning the central this year is important. Outside of the recognition, the Blues will have multiple parts work to their advantage. If the Blues win the central division, they most likely won’t play Colorado or Dallas, unless things drastically change in the month of March and Winnipeg goes on a crazy run. Not likely.
The Blues would play one of the four teams that’s been rotating through the two wildcard spots, all within one point of the other. Meanwhile, Dallas and Colorado would beat up on each other in the first round.
This is a better opportunity for the Blues to advance to the second round. Plus, they would have home ice advantage. You truly cannot underestimate how much home ice advantage fuels a hockey team, and simultaneously provides more rest for all the hidden bumps and bruises.
The key now? Consistency.
The first factor is health. That’s pure luck at this point. Blues forward Jordan Kyrou became ill last week, and things have spread throughout the locker room since.
Blues defenseman Colton Parayko caught the traveling bug next and missed practice before facing the Rangers. Luckily, the illness didn’t slow him down as he went on to score the Blues first goal in the game to get things clicking for the team.
Which leads to the next concept: Goal scoring. Parayko, Brayden Schenn, and Jaden Schwartz were the three scorers on Tuesday night.
The Blues learned quickly how important it was to stay out of the box to avoid the Rangers’ lethal power play, which ranks sixth in the NHL.
Luckily goaltending was on point in the Blues net. Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington won his sixth straight game in net, posting a .962 save percentage.
Another big key will be depth. This has shown through all four lines offensively, and if it doesn’t, Blues head coach Craig Berube makes adjustments. Berube has made it clear any player will sit if the effort is not there.
The Blues have now won eight straight and will look to extend their streak in New Jersey on Friday. Depth, goal scoring, and goaltending have all been factors in those wins. Now comes the consistency.
More Blues Coverage
RELATED: You can now eat and drink at a Blues-themed spot at St. Louis Lambert International Airport
RELATED: Managing minutes on, off ice prevented prolonged dips in Blues' season, helped them stay on top in West