Here are the questions we want to see answered as the NHL prepares for Hockey Day in America on Sunday.
1. How will Brad Richards respond to his third period benching?
Richards has ten points in 13 games this season, which is good, but hasn't put up the sort of offense expected of the Rangers center and found himself benched on Thursday against the New York Islanders. What is most odd about the move is apparently the benching came because Richards had been trying to hard.From ESPN NY:
"That's always the problem with Brad, if he's struggling. It's not a guy I've never been on as far as effort, but sometimes he binds himself up by trying to do too much and caring too much," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "That's a pretty good assessment, and he'll get through it and be a good player for us."
The Dallas Stars are 7-2-1 with Lehtonen in net, and won the first game with a backup this season after Friday's night's come-from-behind win in Vancouver. With Lehtonen sidelined for at least a week with a groin injury, the Stars will turn to Richard Bachman and Cristopher Nilstorp to try and keep things afloat in his stead. The Stars are a team that show flashes of being truly good at times yet need solid netminding to compensate for a lack of consistency. Bachman faces the Flames, who scored seven goals against the Stars on Wednesday, on Sunday.
3. Can Jake Allen further aid the Blues' turnaround?
The St. Louis Blues looked completely helpless for five games, going 0-4-1 as goaltender Brian Elliott imploded just a bit more with each passing game. Enter Jake Allen, who has backstopped the Blues to two straight wins -- including a 5-2 victory over the Calgary Flames on Friday. Allen hasn't been asked to be stellar but he's been good enough; can that success continue against a tough and frustrated Vancouver Canucks team?
4. Can the Winnipeg Jets regain home-ice advantage?
The Winnipeg Jets were one of the toughest teams in the NHl at home, with many stating the atmosphere in Winnipeg was likely one of the most intense and intimidating in the NHL for visiting teams. This season, the Jets are just 3-4-0 at home so far, with three straight home losses looming as they prepare to take on the Boston Bruins this evening. The Jets have just six goals total in the past four games and now must face one of the toughest defensive teams in hockey. Time to try some different home cooking, perhaps.
5. Will there be a new scoring leader in the NHL after tonight?
Thomas Vanek leads the NHL with 23 points and is tied for the goal-scoring lead with 11 goals, and now faces two contenders for the top spot as the Sabres host the Pittsburgh Penguins at home. James Neal is also tied for the NHL lead with 11 goals (seven on the power play) while Sidney Crosby has an eye on the overall scoring lead with 21 points, and now has a chance to take the lead with a big game on the road.