Thursday, April 1, 2010

Blues hanging on by a thread, play at Nashville tonight

Team is six points out of playoffs with six games remaining

ST. LOUIS -- Six points separates them from the Colorado Avalanche. Four points separates them from the Calgary Flames. This is the nearly impossible task that the Blues face with six games left in their season.

As they go into game No. 77 tonight against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena, the Blues (37-30-9) understand they likely need to run the table from here on out and get some serious help, which is what is the most frustrating aspect when one needs to make a playoff push.

But the Blues put themselves in this position with shoddy play early in the season, and now, it's come down to this: win and be a cheerleader.

"We're going to need some help, but we're going to try and take care of our business and finish out strong here and keep going the way we are right now," said goalie Chris Mason.

The Blues face the Predators (44-28-6) tonight on the heels of three straight wins at home.

Yes, at home, where the Blues are (15-18-5) and still carry the worst record in the NHL at home, have won six of eight at Scottrade Center.

But as they face the Predators, whom the Blues are 1-3-0 against this season, the cliche is two points are on the line tonight. Go and get them and let the chips fall where they may.

"It's been that mentality for a while now for us," said forward Alex Steen, who's been on a tear recently, including two goals and an assist in Tuesday's 4-2 win over Chicago. "Obviously we need help, but we have to do our part and give ourselves a chance. We do need help, and hopefully, we'll get it."

The Blues got some help Wednesday, as Anaheim downed struggling Colorado 5-2, but Phoenix couldn't help out, losing 2-1 at Calgary, allowing the Flames to move four points ahead of the Blues and only two in back of Colorado.

"We know we have to win," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "... At this time of year, it's asking our performance to be at a high level, and from there, we find a way. In the last few games, we've gotten the game to a point where we're at a high level."

Getting their game at a high level against Nashville is a must, considering the Blues suffered a crushing blow against the Predators on March 21 in St. Louis, losing a game 3-2 in which they led 2-1 with under four minutes to play.

"We're obviously focused on going and getting a win in Nashville," forward B.J. Crombeen said. "It's going to be a tough game. They've got a lot to play for, too. It's going to be a hard-fought game, but we can't worry about the standings. That will all take care of itself. We just have to go play hard each night and see where we end up.

"Everyone knows that's a situation we put ourselves in and that's not a situation you want to be in. It's obviously something you can't do much about. If you sit and worry about it, it's not going to help you any. Everyone in here's just got the mindset that we put ourselves in this hole. All we can do is what we can do and hopefully get some help."

The Blues know the maximum they can obtain is 95 points this season. They're at 83 now, so 84 and 85 is all that needs to be worried about today.

"We've got a full group of guys committed to doing whatever it takes to get ourselves in the playoffs," Steen said. "We put ourselves in a tough spot, we're six points out, we need some help, but if we continue to win hockey games, we're giving ourselves a chance of getting back in the postseason."

* NOTES -- Forward Paul Kariya will not play tonight, as he stayed back in St. Louis after suffering what the team is calling a lower-body injury Tuesday against Chicago.

Payne said Kariya was having tests done Wednesday and is listed as day-to-day.

"He's a guy that's been playing extremely well with the (David) Backes and (T.J.) Oshie group," Payne said. "... It hurts, now it becomes crucial that somebody else picks up that slack, that ice time, and that performance level."

Steen, who double-shifted and filled in that role quite nicely against the Blackhawks Tuesday, will remain there for the time being.

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