NHL schedule: five questions for Saturday

USA TODAY Sports

A daily feature which asks the five hardest-hitting questions about this day in the NHL. Will our queries be answered? (That doesn't count as one of the five questions.)

1. Can the Rangers finish off their road trip on a high note in Pittsburgh?

The New York Rangers began their Big East Tournament road trip with a solid, complete 4-1 victory over the Washington Capitals. In their next two games in Buffalo and Winnipeg, however, the Rangers performed in less than impressive fashion in losses to teams that were behind them in the standings. Rangers head coach John Tortorella, you may have heard, is not thrilled. Today, the Rangers face a matinee date with the Pittsburgh Penguins, already in ninth in the Eastern Conference, and two points behind the Jets, who are in Toronto. A hugely daunting task, but can the Rangers find a way to sneak out of western Pennsylvania with points?

2. The Maple Leafs played really well in a Thursday night loss to the Penguins. Will that translate to a victory over Winnipeg tonight?

Our Leafs bloggers felt that Toronto played really well, despite not getting enough goals, in a 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday. They outplayed the Pens for two periods, and finally got overtaken in the third by Sidney Crosby and his ridiculous backhand, no-look pass. Tonight, the Leafs host the Winnipeg Jets. They are not, by any standards, as good as the Penguins, but they sit one point behind the Leafs in the standings. Will the Leafs team that showed up against Pittsburgh show up tonight, and will that be good enough?

3. Are the Blues finally on the right track?

One of the more under-the-radar stories of this season has been the underperforming St. Louis Blues who, before running off four wins in five games, were on the outside looking in at the playoff race. Doubling up on the Sharks and Coyotes in the last nine days has now placed them in fourth, or the best they can do considering the Blackhawks have run away with the Central Division at this point. The only team to beat them in their last five? Tonight's opponent, the elite Anaheim Ducks. Can the Blues defend Scottrade Center and stay on this roll?

4. Will the Canucks hang on to the Pacific Division lead?

Things in the Western Conference have been bananas this season, as even the Vancouver Canucks -- as safe a bet to take home a division crown as any team in the West the past few years -- have found themselves middling and, this week at least, trading places at the top of the Northwest with the Minnesota Wild. The Wild visit last-place Colorado in an afternoon game, while the Canucks host Detroit late this evening. Do the Wild take back the Northwest lead?

5. Can Columbus keep their point streak alive?

Everyone's sort of jokingly tossed off the Blue Jackets run of nine-straight games with at least a point, but with as close as the Western Conference is this season, who can really write them off? The Blue Jackets host Phoenix tonight with a chance to run that streak to double digits, and a victory puts Columbus within two points of a playoff spot. Why not?

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