Battered and bruised, Blues still have a shot at division title

News-DemocratApril 12, 2014 

With numerous injured players out of the lineup for Sunday's regular-season finale against Detroit, the St. Louis Blues have an uphill climb to the Central Division title.

The bottom-line scenario to win the division is this: the Blues (52-22-7, 111 points) must beat Detroit or gain at least a point in their 11:30 a.m. game Sunday and Colorado (52-22-7, 111 points) must lose in regulation to the Anaheim Ducks.

Colorado plays at Anaheim at 7 p.m. Sunday.

Colorado holds the tiebreaker over the Blues by having more regulation or overtime wins (47 to 43 by the Blues).

In the only meeting between the former division rivals, the Blues beat the Red Wings 4-1 on Jan. 20.

A Central Division title means the Blues would play Minnesota in the first round of the playoffs. If the Blues don't win the division, their first-round playoff foe will be the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

On March 29, the Blues still had a commanding nine-point lead over Colorado. Seven games later, the Avalanche have caught the Blues leaving the Central Division title up for grabs Sunday.

"It's trust your work," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "If you trust your work, then everybody trusts each other."

The Blues' lengthy injured list includes:

* Forward David Backes (lower body)

* Forward T.J. Oshie (upper body)

* Forward Vladimir Tarasenko (right hand)

* Forward Vladimir Sobotka (undisclosed)

* Forward Patrik Berglund (undisclosed, believed to be upper body)

* Forward Brenden Morrow (lower body)

* Forward Derek Roy (undisclosed)

On Friday, the team recalled forwards Ty Rattie, Adam Cracknell and Keith Aucoin from their Chicago Wolves minor-league affiliate. All three played Friday in the Blues' 3-0 loss at Dallas, the team's fifth straight loss, with Rattie making his NHL debut.

On Saturday, another Wolves forward was promoted to St. Louis when Sergey Andronov got the call. Andronov, a third-round pick by the Blues in 2009, has 12 goals and 25 points in 50 games for the Wolves.

This is the first time the Blues have lost five straight in regulation since December, 2008. The Blues have been outscored 19-5 during the five-game losing skid.

Even with the loss in Dallas on Friday, the Blues' 24-14-3 road record is the second-best in franchise history.

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, nsanders@bnd.com or follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders

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