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Gameday Preview: Detroit Red Wings @ Dallas Stars (6:00pm CDT)

The playoff pursuit is over for the Dallas Stars, but tonight's game has implications for three teams battling for the final two spots on the season's final day.

Ronald Martinez

And so the book closes on a Dallas Stars season - The fifth consecutive with no playoff hockey at American Airlines Center.

Even with nothing on the line this evening "Fan Appreciation Night" can also be an appreciation of the post-deadline player group that kept it interesting until nearly the last minute, and with memories of the lockout still fresh, perhaps also a celebration of the thing that we miss so dearly when it's not in season.

The game may not have playoff implications for the Stars but fans of the Blue Jackets and Wild will both be keeping a close eye on the proceedings.

Columbus can jump all the way to seventh in Minnesota loses to the Avalanche and the Stars take care of Dertroit. Should Minnesota get just a point and the Red Wings none, the two would have to go to a second tie-breaker, head-to-head, which Minnesota would win.

Most interesting for Stars fans, because misery loves company, is that a win by the Blue Jackets and at least a point gained by Minnesota combined with a Kari Lehtonen 'standing-on-head' could mean the Red Wings' two-decade streak of playoff hockey could come to an end as a parting gift for the soon-to-be denizens of the Eastern Conference.

Chances are, though, the Stars will get the Red Wings' A-game Saturday night, and how they choose to respond to it is anyone's guess.

Kari Lehtonen has played a lot of hockey in a shot amount of time. The guess is that he will want the start to end the year in front of the fans, but it would surprise no one to see that change.

Alex Chiasson is questionable with a shoulder problem, and could possibly get another day or two of rest before joining the Texas Stars (victorious last night in game one of their opening round series with the Milwaukee Admirals).

Aaron Rome is out with a hip issue and it's said he'll need surgery to correct the problem. That leaves the Stars without an extra defenseman, and Alex Goligoski has been playing with a stress (or hairline) fracture in his foot. How they'll handle that situation now that nothing is on the line is unknown. An emergency call-up isn't out of the question given the glut of defenseman the Texas Stars boast, but they are engaged up in Milwaukee. Trevor Daley, too, has been battling a nagging injury.

So with all of that said, lines should look about the same for "Fan Appreciation Night" this evening.


Larsen-J Benn

Matt Fraser was sent to Texas yesterday and, as he is wont to do at that level, immediately scored in the winning cause.

If you're the kind that's into tallying a mental goodbye or two at the arena tonight you may take special notice of Jordie Benn, Tom Wandell and Richard Bachman, all of whom are in need of contracts and may or may not return. Eric Nystrom may be in that group as well, but the guess is he'll get a deal done sooner rather than later.

99 days of quick post-lockout hockey fun comes to an end tonight. Enjoy this one a little more than last year's ender against the Blues - At least you know for a fact this time that it will be back in mid-September.