The 48-game regular season is having many effects on NHL teams this year, but the condensed schedule and its conference-based opponents may not be the most notable factors.

As compact as the schedule is, the standings might even be tighter, and it’s limiting the trade options for a club such as the Blues.

On March 5, 2012, the Western Conference had a separation between the Nos. 3 and 14 clubs of 33 points. Going into Monday’s games, the gap between the same positions in the West was six points.

It’s similar in the Eastern Conference, where a year ago today the nine teams in the middle were 12 points apart. This season, there’s a pack of nine split by just seven points.

“We haven’t gotten to the point now where teams have decided that they’re going to build for a future year and are moving experienced players,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. “That usually comes closer to the deadline. But in such a short season, it’s a compact race and so I don’t think anyone is ready to start moving experienced players for the future.”

The Blues have 13 games remaining before the April 3 trading deadline.

As the Blues return tonight to Los Angeles, the site of last season’s playoff wreckage, the calls for Armstrong to make a trade are intensifying. The Blues are 2-3-1 in their last six games, including Sunday’s loss to Dallas, in which the Blues’ lack of scoring, sub-par play in the defensive zone and sloppy goaltending were on display again.

But as the Blues continue their five-game trip against the Kings, reinforcement may be more than a phone call away.