An Imposing Climb to the Playoffs
The Blues have won four out of their last five games. They have played for the most part with new urgency, speed and intensity. Their play has been sound, with an exception of some pretty sloppy play last night in Columbus. Eight points out of a possible 10 is outstanding. However, despite this recent surge, the Blues climb is still a monstrous one. The playoffs are still a possibility, but it is going to take a gargantuan effort to get St. Louis into the second season. We are going to need to see the message in the picture above displayed on the Scottrade scoreboard with regularity if we expect to see the playoffs. Please note this post isn't a pessimistic one. In fact, the Blues overall play through their past five games is likely the best we have seen all year. Production is now popping up across several lines and more players are bashing and crashing with a new sense of purpose. The team looks motivated. This shift upward in tempo and determination has propelled the team to four wins in their last five. So what did those wins do? They did indeed close the gap between the Blues and the playoffs, though just slightly. As of today, the Blues remain in 13th place in the Western Conference with 49 points through 48 games. Gazing upward, Minnesota (51 points), Anaheim (51 points), Dallas (53 points) and Detroit (56 points) seperate the Blues from the 8th place Los Angeles Kings (57 points). That's a total of five teams and eight points between the Blues and their ultimate goal. How good are the Blues chances? Frankly, not good. A mark of 90 points is usually a safe target for a team to make the playoffs. The Blues needed 92 points last season when they finished 6th in the West. This year is a bit different. Due to the highly competitive nature of the conference this season, the 90-point marks seems low, and would be a tally that likely would leave this team on the outside looking in. With that in mind, I think 95 points might be a more realistis total. Subtracting the Blues 49 points they already have in hand, this leaves a projected 46 more points the Blues need to earn in their next 34 games - a pretty daunting task. Ideally, it'd be nice if the Blues could just rattle off 23-straight wins and wrap this sucker up now, but seeing as that won't happen we will look into some other alternative possibilities. Currently, the Blues are securing points in roughly 58% of their games. However, in 14% of their games, the Blues are not just securing a point for themselves, but also giving up points to an opponent. This means that only 43.75% of the time the Blues are taking points and truly making up ground. Of course, there are exceptions to my rough calculations and that some of the OT losses have occurred to opponents that might not be directly involved in the Blues' pursuit, but you get the idea. Moving forward, the Blues need to average approximately 1.35 points-per-game to finish at my imaginary 95-point plateua. What does this all mean? Well, the playoff picture is a distant one, but is still technically in reach. After last year's ridiculous comeback, it is foolish to write any team off at this stage. However, the climb will not be an easy one and performances such as the one last night in Columbus need to be few and far between.