Will another backup goalie stifle the Rangers?
It's been a problem that's plagued the Rangers all season, and on Friday night, they'll face another backup goalie when Washington sends out Philipp Grubauer, who has already defeated the Rangers this season. With the Metropolitan Division race getting tighter (six teams are separated by six points for the second and third spots) any games between those teams is big, and Friday night's will be no different.
Two of the other six teams in the middle of that divisional clump will also face off tonight the Devils host the Blue Jackets. Washington (42 points), New York (38 points), New Jersey (37 points) and Columbus (36 points) will all have chances to move up.
Which Avalanche team will show up in Chicago?
It wasn't long ago when an upstart Colorado side was near the top of the Western Conference, but it's been a different story for the Avalanche of late, going a pedestrian 9-8-3 in their last 20 games after a stellar 14-2 start to the season. One of the keys for Colorado will be trying to limit Patrick Kane, who is currently riding a 12 game point streak, with 21 points (7-14=21) in that span. In the other meeting between these two teams this season, the Avalanche 5-1 in Colorado.
Can Pittsburgh overcome yet another injury?
When the Penguins travel to Carolina to take on the Hurricanes, they'll do so without the services of Pascal Dupuis. The top-line forward was injured in Monday night's game in Ottawa, and while there's been no definitive update on Dupuis, the news does not seem good. While the Penguins have dealt with injuries all season, the line of Dupuis, Sidney Crosby, and Chris Kunitz had been the one constant.
How can the Wild turn things around on the road?
When playing in Minnesota, everything has been fine for Mike Yeo's club, to the tune of a 14-3-2 record, tied for the most home wins of any Western Conference team. But away from the Xcel Center, Minnesota has more than struggled, only going 6-11-3, and going 1-7-1 in their last nine away games. In Winnipeg Friday night, Minnesota will be without Zach Parise, who will reportedly miss time as he nurses a foot injury he's been dealing with for a number of weeks.
Can the Coyotes score some goals for Mike Smith?
Now clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the West—in large thanks to the sluggish play by Minnesota of late—the Coyotes are back in the playoff picture. A big part of Phoenix resurgence has been Mike Smith, who, absent of his recent #BUTTGOAL exploits has been quite good for the Coyotes. But Phoenix is having problems finding the back of the net, scoring a combined eight goals in the team's last seven losses. The Sharks have the league's fourth most potent offense, and when they travel to Phoenix Friday night, two goals or fewer may not cut it for the Coyotes.