Three straight first-round playoff exits and a season full of injuries could force St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong to make an upgrade before Monday's trade deadline, but he insists he won't make any rash decisions.
That's because despite numerous setbacks, the Blues are still very much in contention for the Central Division title and believe they're equipped - when healthy - to make a deep playoff run.
St. Louis might begin its four-game road trip without Jori Lehtera as it tries to avoid a third straight defeat by sweeping the five-game season series with the surging Nashville Predators on Saturday.
Alexander Steen, Alex Pietrangelo, Steve Ott and Brian Elliott currently are nursing injuries, and other key players have missed time for the Blues (35-19-9) throughout the season. Lehtera could be added to that list after being hit in the face with the puck in the first period of Thursday's 2-1 home loss to the New York Rangers.
Pietrangelo practiced Friday and could return for this contest or Sunday at Carolina, which is some good news for a team that has fought through the injury problems to sit in third place in the Central, two points back of Chicago and three behind first-place Dallas.
Armstrong said he's exploring the possibility of making a tweak to the injury-plagued roster, but he said that would be the case only if it didn't disrupt the current locker room chemistry.
"My belief is that group in there, I really, truly believe this is the year for us to have success," Armstrong said. "Our best players, they're not looking for assistance from outside. They know the responsibilities lie on their shoulders."
The Blues have dropped back-to-back games in regulation following a five-game winning streak and missed a chance to tie the Blackhawks in the standings after Nashville (30-21-11) won at Chicago 3-1 on Thursday.
St. Louis, though, is seeking a fifth straight road win and has earned at least a point in nine of its last 10 away from home.
"We've faced injuries all year, but we've got the character and the team in here to battle through it and get things done," forward Scottie Upshall said. "It's just another bump in the road, but we'll be all right."
The Blues have won five in a row against the Predators and have outscored them 11-4 in the four meetings in 2015-16. They've also won eight of their last 10 visits to Nashville, including posting shutouts in both matchups there this season.
The Predators have earned at least a point in eight straight. They haven't lost in regulation since falling to Washington on Feb. 9, which is part of a 2-4-2 stretch at home that includes a 1-0 loss to St. Louis on Feb. 2.
They finished off a perfect three-game trip by beating Chicago, though, and are looking to match their season high of four straight wins set last month.
"It was a great road trip," defenseman Roman Josi said. "Three wins and we've been playing well on the road for a while now. Coming back home now, and we want to play the same way at home."
Pekka Rinne made 38 saves and improved to 3-0-1 with a 0.98 goals-against average over his last four. He has a 2.37 GAA while losing all three of his starts against the Blues this season.
The Blues are counting on Jake Allen to step up with Elliott out for at least four weeks. Allen has a 1.72 GAA while winning his last four starts against the Predators, but he's 0-4-1 with a 2.69 GAA in five starts and a relief appearance since Dec. 31.