5 NHL questions: Semyon Varlamov plays; Downie and Talbot debut

Bruce Bennett

A daily feature that asks the five biggest questions about today's NHL action. Will they be answered? (That doesn't count as one of the five questions.)

1. How will Semyon Varlamov perform?

Obviously, the situation surrounding his arrest is far more important than hockey. With that being said, the Avalanche have decided to allow him to return to work. Given the severity of the situation, many factors will be in play when the club faces the Dallas Stars on Friday night.

2. How will Maxime Talbot and Steve Downie perform?

In hockey related news, the Av's acquired Talbot via trade with the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday afternoon. Downie and Talbot are both expected to debut with their new teams Friday. How will they perform and how will they be used?

3. How will Columbus-Pittsburgh play out?

A factor in realignment was grouping the Blue Jackets and Penguins in the same division. Some believe it was done so that the two franchises could develop a geographic rivalry. Well, they meet in a home-and-home series this weekend.

4. How will the Washington Capitals fare against the Flyers?

Philadelphia has struggled this season, but has fared adequately in the defensive zone. The Capitals will be without Alex Ovechkin on Friday night, the club's key offensive weapon. Will it make any difference?

5. Will Thomas Vanek play better in his second game with the Islanders?

Matt Moulson won Round 1, but now that Vanek has had some more time to practice will his performance be any better than his debut?

More from SB Nation NHL:

How to burn out an NHL goalie

The Sabres could be historically bad

When Ovi shoots, good things happen

The Goal: The rivalry between two high schools where hockey is life

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