Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sport
A daily feature which asks the five hardest-hitting questions imaginable about this day in the NHL. Will our quandaries be answered? (That doesn't count as one of the five questions.)
1. Can the Blue Jackets take their show on the road?
Columbus' 12-game point streak is impressive. It is a benchmark moment for a franchise that has been bereft of them for their decade-plus of existence. But you have to point out this obvious fact: 11 of the Blue Jackets' last 12 games were at home. Their one game on the road was in Detroit, not exactly one of the more tiring trips away from Nationwide Arena. They begin a four-game road swing that will eventually bring them to Western Canada tonight in Nashville. The Blue Jackets finish the season with 12 of their last 17 games on the road, so here's where the season will be made or broken.
2. Will Minnesota make it five in a row?
The Wild are flying as high as they have all season, with a four-game winning streak that included road victories in Vancouver and Detroit. They make a one-game stop in St. Paul to take on the struggling San Jose Sharks before heading out on the road again. Another win means another day that Minnesota holds on to that Northwest Division lead.
3. Just who, exactly, is capable of suiting up for the Ottawa Senators?
Sergei Gonchar is questionable with an upper-body injury for Ottawa's matinee in Tampa this afternoon, potentially adding him to a list of injured Senators that includes Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson, Milan Michalek, Mark Methot, Craig Anderson, Jared Cowen... and yet the Senators are still hanging in fifth, and will try and continue their winning, pesky ways regardless of whether or not Gonchar suits up.
4. Will the Panthers continue their spoiler trip in the New York area?
Nobody expected the Panthers to come out and play as well as they did, much less beat the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night. The Panthers look to do the same to New York's cross-river rivals in New Jersey, as they face the Devils at Prudential Center tonight. One difference for Florida: Jacob Markstrom won't be in goal, as former Devil Scott Clemmenson gets the assignment against Martin Brodeur.
5. Are the Canucks ever going to take full control of the Northwest again?
One of the big surprises of this NHL season has been the Vancouver Canucks' inability to, once again, dominate a Northwest Division that is less than stellar. Sure, the Wild are better, and the young Oilers were only going to improve. This is still a division, however, with the two worst teams in the Western Conference in it. The Canucks currently sit second to Minnesota on a tiebreaker. They visit the Kings in Los Angeles today. Will the Canucks of the past couple season stand up again?