NHL schedule 2013: Five questions for Sunday's action

Jim McIsaac

The NHL has eight games on the docket for Sunday; we have a few questions about...some of them.

1. How will the Penguins respond without Evgeni Malkin?

The Pittsburgh Penguins will be without Malkin on Sunday night as the superstar forward continues to work through concussion-like symptoms after an awkward collision into the boards on Friday. Malkin is the second leading scorer on the Penguins with 21 points in 18 games and is the reigning NHL MVP. The Penguins have found a way to survive without Crosby before; I'm sure one or two games without Malkin won't be a disaster. We'll start to find out tonight.

2. Oh look, has Viktor Fasth still not lost a game?

It's easy to have forgotten that Fasth is 8-0-0 on the season with a 1.78 goals-against average and .933 save percentage -- the Ducks haven't played in six days. Some sort of scheduling quick gave the Ducks ten games in 18 days and then a six-day break after a win against Columbus on Feb. 24. The Ducks sit on top of the Pacific with a 12-2-1 record, due in large part to the big Swedish netminder who just earned himself a two-year contract extension.

3. Did Columbus even have a prayer of stopping the Blackhawks?

The Columbus Blue Jackets got dealt another tough blow on Saturday night, aside from the loss, with defenseman Jack Johnson headed to injured reserve with an upper body injury. Columbus is now without Johnson, Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov and now take on the Chicago Blackhawks -- a team that has yet to lose in regulation 17 games into the season. The Blackhawks seem unbeatable at this point; does a decimated Blue Jackets squad even stand a chance?

4. Can Detroit fully pull out the slump?

Heading into Saturday's contest against the Nashville Predators, the Red Wings had fallen to 7-7-3 after five straight losses. The Wings, struggling with consistency for most of the season, exorcised some demons in a 4-0 dominating win over the Predators; now they must replicate that success against the Vancouver Canucks just 24 hours later.

5. Are the New Jersey Devils falling into a slump?

The Devils were the toast of the Eastern Conference just a few weeks ago, leading the way with a 8-1-3 start to the season and proving there would be no hangover for the runner up to the Cup last season. Since then, however, the Devils are 2-3-1 and have now lost three of their past four after a 5-1 loss in Washington on Saturday night. The Devils now face the Jets in a home-and-home series separated by four days on the schedule; can the Devils pull out of this mini-nosedive against a Jets team that has struggled for much of this season?

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