NHL schedule: Five questions for Sunday

Joel Auerbach

We have some important questions for Sunday's NHL action that need some serious answers.

1. Will the New York Islanders survive a last-gasp attempt to save the season?

The Islanders sit at 29 points and three points behind No. 8 Carolina (and the New York Rangers) who each have a game in hand over the team from Nassau County. Facing the Florida Panthers on Sunday afternoon, the Islanders have a chance to salvage a thus-far disastrous homestand and keep their faint playoff hopes alive with 17 games remaining in the season.

2. What about Philly? Can the Flyers somehow climb back into this race?

The Flyers sit two points behind the Panthers and face the No. 1 team in the East on Sunday, and haven't played in nearly a week. Yet a win would thrust the Flyers right back into the conversation for teams battling for playoff positioning, a remarkeable thought considering just how down-and-out the team has been fore most of this season. They'll need to beat the Penguins however...

3. Will the Pittsburgh Penguins ever lose a game again?

The Penguins have now won 11 straight games to vault to the top of the Eastern Conference and they've done so mostly without Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin, which makes the feat all the more impressive. Now they take on the Flyers, winners of two of their last seven games and reeling after a 4-2 loss to Tampa Bay six days ago -- they might not ever lose again.

4. Will Evgeni Malkin return triumphantly on Sunday?

Malkin has missed seven games since being injured on March 9 against the Toronto Maple Leafs and has been "day-to-day" for most of the past week, taking part in contact drills in practice and could be available on Sunday against the Flyers. The Penguins haven't exactly "missed" Malkin, but his presence will take an increasingly-dominant team to another level of incredible.

5. How will the Tampa Bay Lightning respond after Guy Boucher's firing?

The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to have been destined for something great this season, getting off to a hot start and seemingly taking big step forward under young coach Guy Boucher. The season has crumbled, however, and the Lightning are likely to miss the postseason after an incredible collaps and now Boucher has been fired -- now they travel to Winnipeg to take on the surging Jets who hope to build some ground in the division race. Tough task for a struggling team.

More in the NHL:

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