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At Stake Tonight... (April 2)

by Jay Levin / Nashville Predators
Including tonight's action there are only 10 more days left in the 2009-10 NHL Regular Season. looks at the Western Conference games scheduled for tonight, Friday, April 2, with a synopsis of what's at stake for the Preds. Click here for more on the Conference Standings, Remaining Schedules, and Tie Breakers.

Feel free to post your thoughts and comments at the bottom of this article.

Calgary at Colorado
What's At Stake: Colorado enters play tonight in the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference; Calgary in the No. 9 seed just two points behind. This is clearly the biggest game scheduled in the Conference tonight. Colorado has also played one fewer game than Calgary, so the Avs still have some "fall back room" if they don't win.
From the Preds View: This is the ultimate win-win situation for the Preds; both Colorado and Calgary badly need to earn two points tonight and at least one of them won't. Nashville's magic number over Calgary is one point (Nashville would clinch a playoff spot over Calgary with any combination of one point earned by the Preds or one point not earned by the Flames); Nashville's magic number over Colorado is six points. For instant gratification, a Colorado win -- either in regulation or in overtime/shootout -- and Nashville mathematically secures a playoff spot. Looking a little deeper, a Calgary win and the Preds have a better chance at a more favorable playoff seed (but wouldn't clinch a playoff spot just yet). For anyone peeking ahead, both Calgary and Colorado still have one game remaining against each of the three current Division leaders in the Conference (Chicago, San Jose, and Vancouver), so regardless of the outcome, both teams have challenges remaing.

Chicago at New Jersey
What's At Stake: Both Chicago and New Jersey have already clinched spots in this year's playoffs. The Blackhawks can close in on the Central Division Title and move closer to San Jose for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
From the Preds View: Nashville would need the perfect combination of results to win the division (Chicago has 101 points and six games remaining on its schedule; if Nashville wins out it could get a maximum of 102 points) and a Blackhawks win tonight would eliminate any chances for the Preds to win the Central. In reality, the division title is a long-shot so the results of this game doesn't effect Nashville too much (we reserve the right to change opinions if Chicago drops a couple in a row and Nashville wins tomorrow's tilt at Detroit).

Vancouver at Anaheim
What's At Stake: Vancouver can clinch a playoff spot with a point tonight -- win or overtime/shootout point -- and any points will be a big step toward securing a Division Title (currently seven points ahead of second place Colorado in the Northwest Division standings). Anaheim enters play in 11th in the Conference, seven points behind eighth place Colorado and five points behind ninth place Calgary. The Ducks need a lot to go right in the final 10 days to make the playoffs.
From the Preds View: Not much at stake here from the Preds perspective. Vancouver appears likely to win the Northwest Division, which would assure it at least the No. 3 seed in the Conference (Division winners are guaranteed the top-three seeds in the Conference). Anaheim can't catch Nashville.

San Jose at Minnesota
What's At Stake: San Jose has clinched a playoff spot and currently sit in the No. 1 spot in the Western Conference. Minnesota is currently in 13th in Conference; regulation loss and the Wild would be eliminated from playoff contention.
From the Preds View: Not much at stake here from the Preds perspective; Nashville can't catch San Jose and Minnesota can't catch Nashville.

Edmonton at Dallas
What's At Stake: Edmonton has already been eliminated from playoff contention. Dallas still has a chance to earn the No. 8 seed in the West, but the Stars need a lot to go right. With five more games left of its schedule, Dallas can earn a maximum of 92 points this season -- Colorado (currently in eighth in the conference) enters play tonight with 89 points.
From the Preds View: Not much at stake here from the Preds perspective as neither Dallas nor Edmonton can catch Nashville.

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