Anne-Marie Sorvin-US PRESSWIRE
With eight games on the schedule tonight, we've got plenty of questions that need answering.
1. How will Ryan Kesler perform in his much-anticipated return?
Kesler hasn't played in about ten months after undergoing shoulder surgery and wrist surgery over the summer. He'll make his season debut tonight against the Dallas Stars. It couldn't be better timing for the Canucks, who just lost Manny Malhotra for the season. We'll see if Kesler brings his usual game tonight or if there's still rust on those skates.
2. Can the Bruins extend their road winning streak?
Boston has won their last six road games and visits Buffalo having won seven of their last ten. Meanwhile Buffalo has only won a single home game since Opening Night. The Sabres are going to need scoring from more than just Thomas Vanek if they want any chance of earning a victory tonight.
3. Can Claude Giroux finally get things going offensively?
Flyers fans expected big things out of Giroux after his 93-point 2011-12 season and being named to the captaincy in the offseason. However Giroux has only eight points this year and only one in eleven games since Scott Hartnell was lost for the season. A big game from their captain could spark this struggling team.
4. Will new Jet Eric Tangradi stick it to his former team?
The Penguins traded away the depth forward on Wednesday, and Tangradi said it was "about time for a change." If he has any lingering bitterness towards the Penguins he'll be able to take it out on them tonight, though he did admit the situation is a little weird:
"It's kind of like seeing your ex-girlfriend at the bar the next night," he said after practice.
5. Which Sharks team will show up against Chicago?
This road trip has the potential to be the catalyst that brings everything together or a disaster that wipes out all the good that came from the team's fast start. The optimistic view is that it forces the team to look at when they've overachieved and underachieved over the past few weeks, then decide just how they're going to knuckle down and claw out of it. Unfortunately, the Sharks historically have either thrived or gone completely off the rails when comes down to the whole "clawing out of crap" part.