Blues’ post-All-Star push begins with Canadiens

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Blues entered the All-Star break winners of four of their last five games and are 7-3-1 in their last 11. It still isn’t good enough to keep pace in the Central Division.

During that span, the Blues have lost ground to Colorado, Nashville and Winnipeg, kept pace with Dallas and gained ground on Minnesota (one point) and Chicago (three points). The Blues (30-18-3) sit third in the division with 63 points, tied for sixth in the NHL, but are just six points away from missing the playoffs.

“I’ve played in the Central Division the majority of my career and it never ceases to amaze me,” Blues goalie Carter Hutton said. “If it’s not one team, it’s another. It’s always a battle. I think it’s always been one of the better divisions in the league and it’s always fun to race, that’s for sure.”

Winnipeg sits on top of the division with 66 points but has played one less game than the Blues. Nashville is in second with 65 points but has played four fewer games than St. Louis.

Dallas is three points behind the Blues but has played one less game than the Blues. Colorado and Minnesota each sit six points behind St. Louis but have played three and two fewer games, respectively.

“You can’t really rely on anyone,” Blues center Paul Stastny said. “When you get cold, it seems like every other team gets hot. And then vice versa. So you’ve got to try to minimize those losses as much as you can and find ways to get points and build something when you get something good.”

The Blues’ push to keep winning continues Tuesday night when they host the Montreal Canadiens.

“It’s just a matter of making sure that we’re consistent right now,” Blues coach Mike Yeo told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We’ve been slipping a little bit here lately in the consistency department, but when we’re healthy and we’re engaged, we’re a real tough team to play against.”

St. Louis beat the Canadiens 4-3 at Montreal on Dec. 5. The Blues have won three straight against the Canadiens.

Montreal (20-23-6, 46 points) is desperate for wins, too. The Canadiens are tied for 12th in the Eastern Conference and are 10 points out of a wild card spot.

The Canadiens entered the All-Star break off a 6-5 loss to Carolina. That loss prompted coach Claude Julien to question some of his players’ commitment.

“You win as a team, you lose as a team,” Julien told the Montreal Gazette. “But I would expect our players to be ready to play a game and be focused. Some of them were, but a lot of them weren’t. That’s what we have to get better at. Pros have to be pros. We don’t babysit. We prepare guys. The other part is they’ve got to be pros and say we’ve got to be ready to play here. That’s what good teams do.”

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