With only two days left in the NHL regular season things are starting to take shape. In the Western Conference everything is already decided. The Jets were able to cap off a solid season with a spot in the playoffs. They are currently tied with the Flames for the 7th seed, but everything is settled in the West, with all eight teams clinching the playoffs. Like the Jets, the Flames are a team that were able to parlay a nice season into a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup. At the start of the season they were both outsiders, now these Canadian clubs will have the opportunity to play the spoiler role against the Blues and Ducks. More than ever before, lower seeds beating higher seeds isn’t going to surprise me much. Would it shock you if the Ducks get bounced early? Of course not. The Ducks are infamous for doing a circus act and vanishing come this time of the year. On the outside looking in is the LA Kings who will just fall short. I think a lot of people were expecting either the Jets or Flames to fold up late, which would have allowed the Kings to walk right in, but it wasn’t the case.
In the Eastern Conference there is still a lot to be decided. The Bruins, Penguins, and Senators are alive in the race. The Pens had a chance to answer some of these questions last night, but got beat by the Islanders at home. With the win, it guaranteed an opening round matchup between the Isles and Pens. Talk about a choke job from the Pens, as the stars were aligning for them at home to clinch. Now may the chips fall where they do. At this point it is up for the taking. Games for those teams are essentially playoff games from here on out. In this matchup tonight between the Predators and Stars we know what the fate of these two teams is going to be. The Stars made a push late to make it a little interesting I suppose, but it looks like they’ll finish 10th in the Western Conference. They made strides this season, so they’ll have something to build off going into next season. There is a particular point of interest that the Stars are going to be looking at improving, undoubtedly. Conversely, the Predators are in prime shape with what is looking like a third seed for the Preds. If you haven’t been following, this isn’t the same Predators team from the last ten years. A newly added offensive mindset has seen the Preds getting a new identity of sorts. We’ll see how it works for them in the playoffs in 2015.
Nashville Predators @ Dallas Stars
These games that don’t have much implications on the playoffs are glorified preseason games. Teams are either gearing up for the playoffs or gearing up to go on vacation. The Predators will be the ones advancing on and playing while the Stars will be looking to relax soon. Next year, though, the Stars may be a team worth taking a look at. For now they’ll need to think towards the future. They really need to address that defense, or lack of a defense I guess you can say, because they would have easily been in if they had one. On offense they are 2nd in the NHL, yes 2nd, and they aren’t going to be in the playoffs! They are only .5 points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for 1st in the entire NHL. Something isn’t right there. All of the other top 10 offenses will be in the playoffs. We need to go all the way to San Jose in 14th for a team that is not going to be in the playoffs. Obviously there are some issues on the defense. Now while the Stars are 2nd offensively, they are 27th in goals against. Understandably, the Stars have had the highest scoring games in the NHL this season. Per game there are 6.18 goals in games featuring the Stars.
As I alluded to already, the Predators have shaped out a new identity. Their offense is above and beyond the best they’ve had. The Preds are averaging 2.78 goals per game, which puts them in 12th in scoring. A lot better than floundering at the back of the league and having to win 2-1 every night out. However, with the influx in offense this season, the defense has unsurprisingly taken a step back but not far back enough to hurt them that much. With more focus on offense, the Predators are 8th in the NHL on defense. They were typically a top 5 defense before. However, this new way of playing has certainly worked out well for them. In their last ten games they’ve allowed 3 goals per game, so the defense isn’t where it wants to be heading into the playoffs. The Stars have scored 3.60 goals a game and have let in 2.90. The OVER is 7-3 in the last ten for the Stars and the OVER is 5-1-4 for the Preds. Play it small, but looks like a bet on the OVER.
PICK: OVER 5.5 GOALS (-105) BEST ODDS – 5DIMES.EU