1. Will the Dallas Stars take over the eighth seed tonight? Wait, really? Yes, really, if they get a win. Despite trading away the likes of Michael Ryder, Derek Roy and Jaromir Jagr over the last six weeks, the Stars remain two points behind the Red Wings for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. With a win tonight over San Jose, they'd be even in points while also holding the all important regulation/overtime wins tiebreaker over Detroit. Again, seriously? Good for Dallas and good from Glenn Gulutzan.
2. Which of the three big rivalry games tonight will be the nastiest? Three huge rivalry games will be waged tonight, with all six combatants currently in position for a postseason berth. Montreal-Toronto and Los Angeles-Anaheim feature teams fairly entrenched in their spots and fairly secure of staying there (Anaheim and Montreal have both clinched already). The Rangers-Islanders game, however, features two teams that both need a win, as the loser risks being caught by the Winnipeg Jets. This game as the most potential for bloodshed this evening. At least in the stands.
3. Do the Bruins become the fifth team to clinch tonight? Boston takes on Carolina tonight, needing a point to become our fifth official playoff entrant. The Hurricanes have next to nothing to play for, so the Bruins should be able to take advantage of this and bring home a postseason berth for the sixth-consecutive season.
4. Who leads the Rocket Richard race after Stamkos and Ovechkin battle in D.C.? The Capitals are still locked in the midst of a Southeast Division title race and could really use a win over the mostly out of it Lightning, but let's focus on a more fun aspect of this game: Stamkos and Ovechkin going head-to-head with the Richard Trophy race on the line. Both are stuck at 26 goals right now with Jeff Carter and John Tavares both currently two behind them at 24. Does either make a break for it this evening?
5. Can Minnesota get out of their tailspin? A week or two ago, the Wild were out-muscling the Canucks for the Northwest Division lead. They're in a bit of trouble now after going 4-6-0 in their last ten and losing two straight. A loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets puts Columbus, and potentially Dallas, within one point of Minnesota. There's not much time to recover from losing streaks, so they really need to get things in gear.