The Blues are reeling lately — 5-5-0 in their last 10, losers of three straight — and have seen their once-comfortable lead atop the Central Division whittled away to just two points. Colorado heads into tonight’s action with 109 points to St. Louis’ 111, and each team has three games remaining in the regular season.
(The Avs also hold the regulation/overtime wins tiebreaker over St. Louis, 46 to 43.)
Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock wasn’t offering much in the way of details regarding Backes’ injury, telling the Post-Dispatch his captain “is going to be out for potentially three games and then play,” suggesting Backes might be shut down and rested for the playoffs. Backes was seen in a walking boot today, the byproduct of taking an Alex Steen shot off his foot during a 4-1 loss to Washington.
Anyway, back to the playoff jockeying. Here some info as to how the Central Division might play out over the next few days…
St. Louis (3): at Minnesota, at Dallas, Detroit
Colorado (3): at Vancouver, at San Jose, at Anaheim
Chicago (2): at Washington, at Nashville
Up for grabs, really.
GM says Blue Jackets are ‘off the rails’ right now
Apparently Blue Jackets management is a little shaken by the second 0-3-0 start in franchise history, however.
Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen shared his shock and dismay with the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline on Tuesday.
“I’m surprised how, in just five days, we’ve gone from a very confident group to something that’s the opposite of that,” Kekalainen told The Dispatch on Tuesday. “Our confidence, our game … it’s off the rails right now.
Maybe losing to the Buffalo Sabres stings a little bit extra?
Kekalainen said “there’s no excuse for how we played in Buffalo,” pointing out that every team in the NHL is a “good team.”
Indeed, just about every squad boasts some dangerous weapons if they catch an opponent sleeping.
Portzline goes deeper on Columbus’ recent history of stumbling out of the gate, but consider the foreboding stretch coming up.
Next four games: Three out of four at home Eight games following that: Seven out of eight on the road.
As you can see, winter is coming for Columbus, so they best get things together. All things considered, this is the right time for a wake-up call.
For bonus chuckles, here’s a photo of Kekalainen on a railing.
He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.
Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).
That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out
This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:
With Ovechkin out, Caps lines look like this: