Tuesday is always a busy night in the NHL, and this week is no exception with 10 games on the schedule. Let's look at five big questions heading into the night's games.
1. Who's on top of the Western Conference at the end of the night?
The Blackhawks and Sharks have just one regulation loss between them, and the two teams faceoff on Tuesday night at HP Pavilion in San Jose. That one loss came Monday night in Anaheim when the Sharks dropped a 2-1 decision to the Ducks, and Chicago enters the game still undefeated in regulation play.
Both Corey Crawford and Ray Emery have been lights out for Chicago during the early season, and both Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa are scoring at a pace higher than a point-per-game. San Jose, meanwhile, has four players scoring at higher than a PPG and are only allowing 1.67 goals per game on average. Who wins this heavyweight duel?
2. At 7:53 p.m. ET, what will Leafs fans be doing?
Tuesday night? Check.
Southeast opponent? Check.
Tail end of a back-to-back? Check.
Opposing team in a slump? Check.
Former Leafs on opposing team in an expanded role? Check.
So what will you be doing after about 7:53pm EST or so once you're beyond disgusted with the piss poor effort the Leafs will undoubtedly give tonight in Washington? I'll be tuning into the season premiere of Tosh.O and probably watching the PHI-TBL game.
3. Will Matt Carle strike back at Philadelphia fans?
Speaking of that Flyers vs. Lightning game, it's the second meeting of the two teams so far on the young season. While the Lightning lead the league in goals per game and power play percentage, the Flyers have struggled thanks in large part to bad special teams and porous defensive coverage, the latter of which could be helped by former ice-time-leader Matt Carle. Carle signed with the Lightning as a UFA over the summer, leaving a huge void on defense that the Flyers unsuccessfully tried to plug with Shea Weber.
But while he was in orange and black, Carle was overlooked by Flyers fans as a soft, turnover-happy defenseman. In his first game back in town as a visiting player, will Carle seize the moment to further prove his doubters wrong?
4. How does J.T. Miller perform in his NHL debut?
Miller was a key piece of the Team USA squad that won gold last month at the World Junior Championships in Ufa, and on Tuesday night against the Devils, the Rangers rookie will make his NHL debut. He scored two goals and seven assists in USA's run to the gold medal and so far has eight goals and 12 assists in 37 AHL games as a 19 year old.
He's only likely in the NHL until the return of Ryan Callahan to New York's lineup, but he's an important prospect for the Rangers, who selected him with their first round pick in 2011. How does he perform?
5. Will Jonathan Quick bounce back vs. Columbus?
Last year's Conn Smythe Trophy winner had a rough outing on Sunday night vs. Anaheim, just a continuation of a generally rough start for the Kings netminder. Jonathan Quick was pulled early on Sunday after allowing two goals on three shots, and his overall numbers on the season are just generally poor. Can Jonathan Quick rebound against the Blue Jackets in Columbus on Tuesday night?