How Friday's NHL games could affect Nashville Predators' first-round matchup in Stanley Cup

The Stanley Cup Playoffs begin on April 20, but the Nashville Predators still do not know their first-round opponent.

Several games slated for Friday in the NHL could help clarify things for the Predators.

The Predators travel to the United Center for their final meeting with the Chicago Blackhawks, where a win would bring them closer to locking up the first wild card position.

Since Nashville's wild-card competitor, the Vegas Golden Knights, lost to Edmonton on Wednesday, the Predators' chances at taking the top spot are now at 87%.

Andrew Brunette told media on Thursday he's planning to play all regular starters in the final three games for the most part.

"We're gonna stay with the status quo," Brunette said. "We will make decisions as we go. There might be a guy out here, a guy out there."

How Friday's NHL games affect Nashville Predators' first-round matchup

As of Friday, the Predators' first-round opponent is still in doubt. According to Sport Club Stats, they have a 47% chance of playing the Vancouver Canucks, a 27% chance of playing the Edmonton Oilers, and a 23% chance of playing the Dallas Stars.

A Predators win over the Blackhawks would lower the chances of playing Dallas and increase the chances of playing either Vancouver or Edmonton.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: The Nashville Predators evolved from rebuilding afterthought to playoff-bound menace

Meanwhile, Vegas host the Minnesota Wild on Friday. A regulation or overtime loss for the Golden Knights would also decrease the chances that Nashville meets Dallas in the first round.

Then there's Edmonton, who are making a late run to overtake Vancouver for the Pacific Division title. They host the Arizona Coyotes on Friday − an Oilers win would increase the chances Nashville plays Edmonton in the first round.

On Saturday, Edmonton and Vancouver meet for a pivotal showdown that could decide who wins the Pacific Division. The winner of that game is most likely to meet Nashville in the first round, assuming the Predators end up taking the first wild card spot.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: How Friday's NHL games affect Nashville Predators' first-round matchup