By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- It wasn't 100 percent success getting help from the outside on Friday, but the Blues did get plenty of it.
And now that they head into arguably the most important weekend of games of the season beginning with today's home game against the New York Rangers (7 p.m.; FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM), the Blues have the opportunity to thrust themselves right back into the mix for the Western Conference wildcard race.
The Blues (37-28-5) trail the Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars and Anaheim Ducks by five points each. The Avalanche hold the first wildcard and the Stars hold the second. But the Blues have a game in hand on the Avalanche and two games each on the Stars and Ducks. The Blues also trail the Calgary Flames by a point in the standings with two games in hand.
So needless to say, with games in hand, the Blues know these are must-win games.
"Yeah, we need both of these this weekend," captain Alex Pietrangelo said. "I think if you look at the standings, we know where we are. We know the situation.We got a little bit of help last night so it's an opportunity for us to continue to play well, continue to build this thing and get some wins.
"We put ourselves in that spot and they are (dire straights games). We have to get points. That's the reality of it, right? You've got to get two points and start climbing and catching teams."
The Blues are coming off a disheartening 4-1 loss to the Avalanche, a game in which they felt they dominated most statistical categories except one: the scoreboard. After having outshot Colorado 45-23 and out-attempting them 82-42, it was hard to watch the video and wonder how you lose a game like that.
"It's a tough one obviously," defenseman Colton Parayko said. "It's a game where, I don't know if you want to call it puck luck or whatever you want to call it. Obviously their goalie [Semyon Varlamov] had a good game and kudos to him. He did a really good job. I just think the way we've been playing, if we play that way, we're going to give ourselves a good chance. It just kind of goes to show that at this point in the year, games aren't easy to win and games are tough to come by, two points are tough to come by. That just goes to show how hard you have to work, too."
After tonight's game, one in which the Blues hope to bag two points, they head to Chicago for -- believe it or not -- their first game at the United Center this season on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. (NBCSN, KMOX 1120-AM).
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Tonight was supposed to be the return of a favorite former Blue, Kevin Shattenkirk, but that will have to wait for another day.
Shattenkirk, who spent parts of seven seasons with the Blues before he was traded to the Washington Capitals on Feb. 27, 2017, has been sidelined for all but 46 games this season with a torn meniscus in his left knee. The Blues had already played the Capitals last season and his return was delayed until tonight.
Shattenkirk left the Capitals via free agency and signed a four-year, $26.6 million contract to play for the team he grew up watching from near his hometown of New Rochelle, N.Y.
"Is he supposed to be coming back today? It would have been nice to see him," Pietrangelo said of Shattenkirk. "A long-time friend, played with him for a long time. A good player. You want to see him back because you never want to see somebody hurt. It would have been nice to see him."
The Blues had a tribute video ready for Shattenkirk's return but it will have to wait.
Shattenkirk had 258 points (59 goals, 199 assists) in 425 games with the Blues.
"He kind of played a big role in the beginning of my career," Parayko said of Shattenkirk. "Obviously when you come into the league and step in under a guy like 'Shatty,' you learn from him and pick his brain about things and you see how good of a player he is and more importantly, how good of a person he is, how important he was to all the guys if you ask everyone in the room. He treats everyone the same way, he's high class, he's first class, he's got it all. Great person and great to be around, so I have nothing but great things to say about the guy. He's awesome."
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The Blues will be wearing their former home whites that are now road whites at home tonight for the first time this season.
For just this one game, the Blues will wear their road jerseys at home and the Rangers will wear their home royal blues.
The Blues announced on their website that it is to give fans the chance to see the road jersey at a home game. The Blues last wore white jerseys at home on a regular basis during the 2001-02 season.
In addition, the Blues will wear St. Patrick's Day-themed warm-up jerseys before the game. Jerseys will be available online at blues.gesture.com or by texting "BLUES" to 52182, with a portion of proceeds benefiting Urban Harvest.
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The Blues' projected lineup:
Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Vladimir Tarasenko
Patrik Berglund-Kyle Brodziak-Alexander Steen
Dmitrij Jaskin-Vladimir Sobotka-Tage Thompson
Nikita Soshnikov-Ivan Barbashev-Chris Thorburn
Carl Gunnarsson-Alex Pietrangelo
Vince Dunn-Colton Parayko
Joel Edmundson-Robert Bortuzzo
Jake Allen will start in goal; Ville Husso will be the backup.
Healthy scratches include Jordan Schmaltz and Oskar Sundqvist. Carter Hutton (neck) is day-to-day, Scottie Upshall (knee) is out indefinitely, and Robby Fabbri (knee) and Jay Bouwmeester (hip) are out for the season.
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The Rangers' projected lineup:
Chris Kreider-Mika Zibanejad-Jesper Fast
Ryan Spooner-Kevin Hayes-Mats Zuccarello
Jimmy Vesey-Vladislav Namestnikov-Pavel Buchnevich
Cody McLeod-David Desharnais-Paul Carey
Marc Staal-Neal Pionk
Brady Skjei-Ryan Sproul
John Gilmour-Rob O'Gara
Alexandar Georgiev will start in goal; Henrik Lundqvist will be the backup.
The healthy scratch includes Peter Holland. Kevin Shattenkirk (knee), Tony DeAngelo (ankle), Ondrej Pavelec (knee) and Steven Kampfer (hand) are all out.