Regular Season Finale Big for Blues

Saturday, 04.27.2013 / 12:28 PM
Chris Pinkert  - St. Louis Blues

It all comes down to this.

The Blues can finish with the No. 4, No. 5 or No. 6 seed in the Western Conference, and it all depends on two games (Blues / Blackhawks at 7 p.m. and Kings / Sharks at 9:30 p.m.)

Here are a few possible scenarios:

1. With a Blues win against the Blackhawks, the Blues guarantee themselves the No. 4 seed in the West and have home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Their first round opponent will be the winner of the San Jose / Los Angeles game (9:30 p.m. tonight, NBC Sports Network).

2. If the Blues lose in overtime or a shootout tonight, they still get home-ice advantage if San Jose beats Los Angeles.

3. If the Blues lose in regulation, they won’t have home-ice advantage in Round 1.

4. The Blues finish sixth if they lose tonight in regulation and San Jose beats Los Angeles in overtime or a shootout.

That’s a lot of math, and it’s not always simple.

Basically, the Blues can play either Los Angeles, San Jose or Vancouver in the first round, and they’ll know the answer tonight after the Sharks / Kings game.

“Regardless of what happens, 90 minutes after the game we’ve moved onto the next event,” Ken Hitchcock said after today’s morning skate. “If it ends up in a win, great, we know we’re the four seed and we watch TV. If we don’t win, we adjust accordingly. You can’t carry any baggage postgame.”

If you’re attending tonight’s game, the Bud Light Zone on the Club Level will be open after the game to show the Sharks / Kings game.

BLACKHAWKS LINEUP

Joel Quenneville told reporters recently that “we might look at resting some guys” in tonight’s game against the Blues.

Chicago has clinched the Presidents’ Trophy and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs, so resting players and avoiding the risk of injury to key players would make sense.

“We go in the same way. They already have their home ice locked up and we’re trying to do the same thing,” said Blues forward Ryan Reaves. “A win helps us out in that regard, so we approach this like they have their big lineup in tonight.”

The Blackhawks played a full lineup last night in their home game against the Calgary Flames. Tonight, they could be without any or all of the following players: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.

Goalie Carter Hutton could make his NHL debut tonight in goal for the Blackhawks.

“You have an obligation at home to (play your full lineup),” Hitchcock said. “You owe your home fans, you owe those people that obligation and you have to honor it. I don’t care if the game is for nothing, sitting out your best players at home to me would be offensive if I was a fan. What you do on the road is up to you. You have to protect your lineup.

“(Quenneville) played his full lineup yesterday. It was their appreciation day and he played it right to the end. You don’t want to come here with nothing on the line and risk an injury. If I was in Joel’s position, I would be doing the exact same thing.”

BLUES LINEUP

Hitchcock said that Barret Jackman and T.J. Oshie could both play tonight, but they won't because he doesn't want to take any risks with them.

Both should be ready for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Jackman was injured after blocking a shot in the April 23 game vs. Colorado. Oshie has been recovering from surgery on his left ankle.

“It was hard watching the other night, and tonight’s no different,” Jackman said. “It kills me to be in the stands but that’s the way it goes. You get bumps and bruises and you get injuries. Sometimes it’s better just to sit out and there’s more than capable guys in the lineup. I feel more than comfortable with (Kris Russell) taking over for me.

“Obviously you want to be playing every game, but two days before the playoffs, two games off before the playoffs isn’t a bad thing. I’ll be feeling great come Tuesday or Wednesday whenever we start with whoever we play.”

‘NOTEWORTHY

- The Blues have won five consecutive games at Scottrade Center, which is their longest streak of the season.

- Adam Cracknell leads the Blues with two goals against the Blackhawks this season. Chris Porter and Alexander Steen each have two points vs. Chicago.

- Brian Elliott, who is expected to start in goal, has set a Blues record with 10 wins in April. Tonight, he’ll be looking for No. 11.

- The team that scored first has won each of the last seven meetings dating back to last season.

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