Five NHL questions: Jimmy Howard returns for Red Wings

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

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 Jimmy Howard perform?

Howard hasn't played since Dec. 10 after sustaining a knee injury. Howard is expect to start Monday night's game against the Nashville Predators. Considering the Winter Classic is on Wednesday afternoon, a strong performance from Howard likely results in his starting the first game of 2014.

2. Will Wayne Simmonds score two goals against the Vancouver Canucks?

Simmonds has tallied at least two goals in three consecutive games and can become the first player in the history of the Flyers franchise to do so in four straight. Vancouver enters competition allowing the fourth fewest goals against per game this season (2.22 goals against per game average).

3. Will the Los Angeles Kings end their two-game losing streak?

The Kings will meet the Chicago Blackhawks in a display of two of the Western Conferences best clubs. Chicago enters the night tied with the Anaheim Ducks for the league lead in total points, while Los Angeles trails Anaheim by seven points for the Pacific Division lead. Will the team have a chance to eat away at that deficit with a victory against Chicago?

4. How will Philipp Grubauer perform against the Ottawa Senators?

Grubauer has taken over as the primary goaltender in Washington, starting in seven of the team's last 10 games and keeping Braden Holtby on the bench since Dec. 21. The same will be true on Monday night when the Capitals face the Ottawa Senators. Grubauer emergence has been so impactful that Michal Neuvirth's agent publicly stated that he has requested a trade on behalf of his client. With all this in mind, will Grubauer perform well enough to substantiate such a change?

5. Will the Vancouver Canucks extend their three-game winning streak?

The Canucks have won three straight with the Philadelphia Flyers coming to town. The club is 8-1-1 in its last 10 and hasn't lost a game at home since Nov. 25, a span of six games. The Flyers have won two straight and are entering the game off a come-from-behind victory against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night.

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