The importance of game 82: St. Louis Blues
It all may come down to one game for the playoffs. (photo courtesy of Hero Sports)

The importance of game 82: St. Louis Blues

Every regular season game counts, and on Saturday, game 82 counts more than ever.

edbrickeen
Ed Brickeen

It has been a largely disappointing season for the Blues. From the underproduction of their star players to injuries to a trade deadline deal with a divisional rival, the Blues have been largely underwhelming all year. On Saturday, they can make their fanbase forget all of it.

How does it work

Even if the Blues lose Friday night to the Chicago Blackhawks, a win against the Avalanche, even if it comes in overtime or a shootout, will propel the Blues to the eighth spot in the playoffs. Granted, that means facing off against the best team in the west, the Nashville Predators, the team that knocked them out last year.

The Blues have done this to themselves, and they can point the finger at several spots on their roster.

Goaltending

Jake Allen, the supposed number-one for St. Louis in the crease, has been as streaky as any goaltender in the league. His long losing streak in the middle of the season, nearly sunk this team. If it was not for the stellar goaltending of Carter Hutton, who knows how far the Blues could have fallen.

This was never more apparent than Wednesday’s game against the Blackhawks at the Scottrade Center. The Blues blew a 3-1 lead, thanks to Allen giving up at least two soft goals. With the final seconds ticking down in a tie game, Allen let in another softie for Chicago to take the lead with 8.5 seconds remaining.

Much has been written about the Blues injuries, and one of the more stinging ones could come from the fourth line. Scottie Upshall is probably out for the duration of the playoffs with a lacerated kidney. His energy and penalty killing is sorely missed by the Blues, who surrendered the game-winning goal on the power play to Brent Seabrook.

All of that can be undone on Saturday in Denver. With the Blues only trailing Colorado by one point, the Blues own the tiebreaker in head-to-head record with Colorado. If the Blues can win, in any form, including a shootout win, they will control the tiebreakers.

Don't just blame injuries

With Colorado dealing with injuries of their own to their best defenseman, Erik Johnson, and their starting goaltender, Semyon Varlamov, the stage is set for the Blues to go back to the playoffs for the eighth straight year.

With a loss, there could be some big changes to St. Louis. The Blues could potentially say goodbye to the likes of Jay Bouwmeester, and Alex Steen.

Also, the impending expansion draft for the franchise in Seattle could mean Jake Allen would be exposed to the draft. Not to mention, there is a growing sentiment among fans that the front office could be cleaned out, with Doug Armstrong getting a lot of the blame for their struggles.

Mike Yeo is also getting fingers pointed at him. His inability to reverse the woes of one of the league’s worst special teams groups, combined with some head-scratching decisions on goaltending has led Yeo to be on the hot seat, according to some fans.

All in all, a win in the final game of the season could make all of this go away, no matter how far they go in the playoffs.

Both teams are battling for the final playoff spot... but only one will be rewarded the chance to extend their season... and it may not be decided until the final game. 

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