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Hardest, easiest paths to the playoffs

Though the Kings are four points out of a playoff spot, their remaining schedule is certainly conducive to their making a run in the final weeks of the season. Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Blues are in the midst of a California swing that is always a challenging part of any team’s schedule. But once they get out of California, woo boy, does it start to ease up for Mike Yeo’s team.

Five of their seven games after leaving the Golden State are against either the Arizona Coyotes or Colorado Avalanche. In determining the toughest and easiest remaining schedules for playoff contenders, that stretch puts the Blues easily at the top of the soft list.

But you still have to win. In doing playoff projections, losing to a team that you’re heavily favored against is more of a blow to playoff projections than losing against an evenly matched team, according to hockey analytics expert Dom Luszczyszyn.

“A game you should win affects your playoff chances more than a game that should be close,” he said. “[The Blues] have a good chance to win those games, but they have to actually win them.”