The Nashville Predators have clinched their playoff spot, but the seeding — and their potential first round opponent — is still up for grabs. They’re sitting one point back of St Louis (who has a game in hand on them) and a potential Minnesota Wild first round match.
They could also jump over the Calgary Flames, whom they are tied in points with, and force a divisional switch. The Predators would slide into the Pacific and draw the Anaheim Ducks in the first round, with the Flames getting the unlucky draw of the Chicago Blackhawks.
So, in other words, plenty on the line for the Nashville side of tonight’s match.
The Stars, on the other hand, get to see what else their youth can do. With the speediness that Nashville is capable of, it should be a fun run-and-gun game. Led by the youth, Dallas should get a good idea of what pieces they have going into next season.
They’ll have several roles to be filled with potential departures of unrestricted free agents such as Ales Hemsky, Patrick Sharp, and Jiri Hudler. That’s at least two top six scorers and a bottom six role that could be open. Is Jason Dickinson ready for a top six position? Has Remi Elie made a case to slot in next to the Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin dynamic duo? Is Gemel Smith the right combination of sandpaper and skill that will complement guys like Antoine Roussel and Radek Faksa in the bottom six?
On defense, Julius Honka appears to be cementing his name as a potent one-two punch of offensive blueliners with John Klingberg. The third pairing right-handed defenseman position needs to be sorted out — is that Stephen Johns’ spot to lose? How does the left shake out?
These last few games give the organization a chance to decide on some direction and prepare their shopping list for the offseason. It will influence their draft lottery strategy, their draft strategy, and who they need to pursue in free agency.
So it’s not a meaningless game for the Stars, even if the points ultimately mean next-to-nothing in the standings outside of draft positioning at this point in the season.