The possible playoff matchups are still wide open, at least in the NHL's Western Conference, but tonight's action could go a long way towards sorting them out. For starters, the Nashville Predators can eliminate the Dallas Stars from contention by beating them in regulation. Can the Preds apply that "killer mentality" that is so often talked about when a team gets the lead in a series to knock out an opponent?
We'll find out this evening, but until then, jump into your afternoon hockey notes...
Nashville Predators News
Motor City: Replacing a Rival " The Hockey Guys
This writer wonders if Nashville might replace Colorado as a heated rival of the Red Wings. Until the Preds knock off the Wings, I just don't see it from their side.
Nashville Predators can clinch 4-5 matchup with win over Dallas | The Tennessean
...and with that, they'd at least not have to worry about shuttling back and forth to a Pacific Division city during the first round.
Around the Wide Wide World of Hockey
Why Jonathan Quick should overthrow King Henrik Lundqvist from the Vezina Trophy throne | Puck Daddy
Either one makes a fine choice, I'd put Pekka somewhere in the 3rd-5th range, with Brian Elliott and Mike Smith in whatever order you like.
Why ‘Saving Stanley’ may be the greatest hockey mockumentary you’ve never seen | Puck Daddy
This does look funny - and I remember the guy behind this, Vashi Nedomansky, from my days in Ann Arbor - he played for Michigan, and used to come in the store where I worked on the south side of campus all the time.
Commentator-speak: A few things that get my goat | Backhand Shelf
Agreed on all counts, Justin.
Blues have too many passengers as they head into the playoffs. - St. Louis Game Time
Are they coasting to the finish in St. Louis?
Florida Panthers Visit Washington Capitals: Game 81 Preview - Litter Box Cats
Over in the Leastern Conference, this is the biggest game of the night.
Canuck Notes : Tom Benjamin's NHL Blog :: CanucksCorner.com
Tom neatly sums up the attitude in Vancouver - "It’s amazing really. The Canucks have failed to meet the fan and media expectations for most of the year, yet with two games to go the team has a better than decent chance of being the first repeat winner of the President’s Trophy in more than 20 years."
Canucks' Dan Hamhuis strong at both ends of the ice - Vancouver Sun
They're pretty happy with Hammer, though.
Patrick Roy would be ideal Canadiens GM, but would he take job? – USATODAY.com
It sounds to me like the bar for "ideal" is set pretty low.
NCAA Frozen Four 2012: An Illustrated Guide to the college hockey championship (INFOGRAPHIC) | Puck Daddy
A nifty bit of infographicry here. I wonder how much Zack Budish contributes to Minnesota's size advantage.
The real winner in the Cody Hodgson trade was Alexander Sulzer - Pass It To Bulis
A look at just how getting sent to Buffalo may have given the former Preds' career a real boost.
Proteau: Why the Lady Byng is a worthy award - The Hockey News
Adam Proteau has the right idea, but the wrong solution. Rename the Lady Byng in honor of Jean Beliveau already.
What was the dirtiest cheap shot of the season? | Backhand Shelf
No Predators on this list...
Lastly, let's finish with a NHL playoff preview for general sports fans from SB Nation headquarters. It sounds like Erin likes the Preds to make noise in the West: