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Tonight’s games

Time is a-wastin’ so let’s get right to the previews. Expect cutesy lead paragraphs to resume soon enough. Buffalo Sabres (41-23-10, 92 pts) at Boston Bruins (34-28-12, 80 pts) 7:00 PM ET

Buffalo certainly has a lot less to play for in this one, but they could also be getting a taste test of a potential first round tussle here. The Bruins cannot rest for a second because Atlanta and New York have a great opportunity to wrestle the eighth spot away from them.

Carolina Hurricanes (31-35-9, 71 pts) at Atlanta Thrashers (33-30-12, 78 pts) 7:00 PM ET

The Hurricanes are one of the most dangerous “spoiler” teams in the NHL right now. The Thrashers need to soak up as many points as possible because their schedule is about to get brutal.

Nashville Predators (43-27-6, 92 pts) at Florida Panthers (30-33-11, 71 pts) 7:30 PM ET

If I were the Panthers, I would make it a point to lose the remaining games in regulation. What’s the point of finishing in ninth or tenth place again? The Predators need to protect their shaky hold on fifth place in the Western Conference. They could easily tumble to eighth place.

Los Angeles Kings (42-26-6, 90 pts) at Minnesota Wild (36-33-6, 78 pts) 9:00 PM ET

The Wild are among my “stop kidding yourself, you need to start tanking immediately” picks. The Kings might be getting worried about a self-jinx after making that “Back in Black” announcement. People just don’t fear the jinx like they used to, do they?

Dallas Stars (33-28-14, 80 pts) at Anaheim Ducks (35-31-8, 78 pts) 10:00 PM ET

There’s going to be a lot of smack talking in this one. Unfortunately, it’s really just a prelude to a wicked golf match.