ST. LOUIS -- As the St. Louis Blues prepare for the resumption of the season following the All-Star break, coach Ken Hitchcock prefers to look ahead, not backward.
What Hitchcock sees in the team's future is the possibility of earning a playoff spot. Whatever has happened in the first half of the season, in Hitchcock's opinion, doesn't really matter now.
"We've got 33 games left and we're in a playoff race; a playoff hunt," Hitchcock said after the Blues' practice on Monday. "We've earned the right to still be in this race. We've had an up and down season, our highs have been really high and our lows have been really low. We're in a situation right now where if we can even out our play, I like our chances."
One of the teams just behind the Blues in the playoff race is the Winnipeg Jets, their opponent on Tuesday night at Scottrade Center. The Blues have 53 points, three more than Winnipeg, but also have played three fewer games. The Jets are tied with the Dallas Stars.
"This is that time of year that quite frankly, the only way you get in is with your work, determination and grit level," Hitchcock added. "Who wants it the most? You have to want it through your work. ... We want to see the consistent work ethic coming through in our hockey club.
"Whoever is giving it to us, those are going to be the guys we really lean on right now. We're not in a position to wait and hope."
The Blues won only one of their last five games before the All-Star break, and have struggled in goal for most of the last month. Jake Allen, who has not won since the Winter Classic on Jan. 2 against the Blackhawks, will get the start against the Jets.
Winnipeg defeated the Blackhawks in Chicago in its last game before the All-Star break.
"This has been a really resilient group," Jets coach Paul Maurice told NHL.com on Monday. "They just stay in the fight. I'd like to think we are getting healthy at some point. We certainly feel like we are a good enough hockey team that we are making a push to win every night."
The Jets will be without center Mathieu Perreault, who missed the game against the Blackhawks because of an upper-body injury.
Tuesday night's game begins a three-game trip for the Jets, followed by games in Dallas and Chicago. Ondrej Pavelec is scheduled to start in goal against the Blues.