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The St. Louis Blues are starting to feel like the Pepsi Center is their home away from home.
The Blues face the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night, marking the third time in 26 days the teams will play in Denver. The first two worked out pretty well for St. Louis: a 3-0 win on March 5 and a 4-2 victory on March 21.
If that pattern holds Friday, the Blues (42-28-6) will be able to celebrate clinching a playoff spot. They enter the game with 90 points, one ahead of Nashville for third in the Central Division, with a game in hand after the Predators lost to Toronto on Thursday.
The Blues are also 11 points up on Los Angeles, the only Western Conference team not in a playoff spot that hasn't officially been eliminated from contention.
The most points the Kings can earn is 91, so a St. Louis win would clinch at least the second wild-card position in the conference.
It is hard to imagine the red-hot Blues losing their six remaining games in regulation, so the only question left is whether they will be a wild-card team or finish in the top three of the division and avoid the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the West.
Coach Mike Yeo said the most important thing is finishing strong. St. Louis is 11-1-1 in its last 13 games, so it has momentum going into the last 10 days.
"We want to make the playoffs, but we want to make sure that we're a good team going in," Yeo told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after a 3-1 win over Arizona on Wednesday. "The same focus for us: We got the win (Wednesday) and obviously there are some areas we have to be better at going into our next game."
A quirky schedule had the Blues and Avalanche playing only one time before March. St. Louis beat Colorado 5-1 at home on Nov. 6 and has a chance to sweep the season series with a win Friday and another on the last day of the season in what will likely be a prep for the playoffs.
The Avalanche (20-53-3) have long been eliminated from the postseason and are in the midst of a seven-game losing streak, all in regulation. Two more losses and they would match their longest losing streak of the season, although there was an overtime loss in that Jan. 12-Feb. 4 stretch.
Colorado doesn't have much to look forward to, but there was excitement surrounding the team Thursday. Tyler Jost, the 10th overall pick in the 2016 draft, arrived a day after signing an entry-level contract, and the hope is he will be able to play Friday.
The only thing that could hinder that is paperwork. Jost is from St. Albert, Alberta, and officials were dealing with his work visa and issues that might not be cleared up before the game against St. Louis.
When and if Jost, 19, is able to play, it will add a spark to a team that has gone 11-44-3 since Nov. 23.
Jost just finished his freshman year at the University of North Dakota, where he had 16 goals and 19 assists in 33 games. General manager Joe Sakic dubbed him one of the untouchables before the March 1 trading deadline.
Jost is just as eager to get on the ice as the organization is.
"I want to be a part of the rebuild and I want to do whatever I can to help this team in that rebuild stage," Jost told HockeyBuzz.com. "Obviously, they're struggling a little bit, but I think I can bring some energy and some pace into this lineup. I'm still very honored and happy to be part of this organization."
If he gets on the ice Friday, he will probably witness St. Louis clinching a playoff spot and putting the Kings behind.
"We can't control what L.A. does, but we can control what we do in this room," Blues goaltender Carl Hutton told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.