For six months, the St. Louis Blues cruised through the NHL season, never once losing three consecutive games and surpassing the Chicago Blackhawks atop the Central Division standings. Come the trade deadline, the Blues shored up their lone perceived weakness by adding goaltender Ryan Miller. Now on the threshold of a postseason in which St. Louis is expected to challenge for the Stanley Cup, it could all be falling apart at the worst possible time.
Thursday night marked the fourth straight loss -- the Blues' longest losing skid of the season -- this one coming at the hands of the Minnesota Wild, a potential first-round playoff opponent. But that scenario requires St. Louis to secure the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, which is far from a guarantee at the moment. As of Friday morning, the Blues stand level with the Colorado Avalanche in the Central Division with 111 points through 80 games, one point back of the West-leading Anaheim Ducks. And the Avs own the regulation wins tiebreaker over the Blues as well. If the Blues do fall back to the No. 2 spot in the Central, they would face the reigning-champion Blackhawks in Round 1 of the playoffs instead of the Wild.
The road back to the top of the division won't be an easy one. Not with the current instability in the the St. Louis net (four goals allowed in each of their four recent losses). Miller's play has been particularly questionable of late. He was pulled after allowing four goals on just 13 shots Thursday night, and owns an .813 save percentage over his past three starts. Meanwhile, across the rink in the Wild crease, 30-year-old John Curry stopped 43 shots to earn his third career win.