5 NHL questions: Panthers must step up, Leafs return to Boston

Who will step up for the Panthers? - Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

A daily feature which 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. Who steps up for the Panthers?

Florida GM Dave Tallon put everyone on notice on Thursday when he fired coach Kevin Dineen. "Our better players have to start playing better or we will get better players," he said on a conference call. Those better players get their first chance to prove their worth on Saturday against the Ottawa Senators. Will they be motivated by the impending fire sale or has everyone on the team already given up on the season?

2. Something's gotta give in Philly tonight, right?

The Flyers have the worst offense in the league (1.47 goals per game). The Oilers have the worst defense in the game (3.82 GAA). If the Flyers can't get out of their slump against Edmonton, of all teams, then there truly is no hope for them this season.

3. Can Toronto cleanse their demons?

The Maple Leafs return to Boston for the first time since their epic Game 7 collapse in the first round last May, when they saw a late 4-1 lead evaporate into an overtime loss. Toronto has bounced back well this season and avenging that tragic loss against the Bruins would be sweet indeed.

4. Can the Penguins stop Alexander Steen?

It sure seems like no one in the league can so far. Steen has scored 14 goals in 14 games this season and trails only Sidney Crosby in scoring. Trusting Marc-Andre Fleury to stop anybody is risky business, but perhaps this is the night Steen gets held off the scoresheet.

5. Will the Capitals snap the Coyotes' home streak?

Somewhat surprisingly, the Phoenix Coyotes are 7-0-1 in the Arizona desert this year. That might change after the red-hot Caps come into town on Saturday. Washington is unbeaten so far this month and Alex Ovechkin has feasted on the Coyotes in his career. Remember this beauty?

More from SB Nation NHL:

Ryan Miller the best option for Team USA?

Who are the NHL’s "softest" players?

College puck coverage at SBN College Hockey

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

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