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A daily feature which asks the five hardest-hitting questions imaginable about this day in the NHL. Will our quandaries be answered? (That doesn't count as one of the five questions.)
1. Will the Chicago Blackhawks extend their point streak?
We'll stop asking about this, as soon as they start losing (in regulation). The streak currently stands at 22 games during this season and 28 games spanning back to last season. The all-time record for longest streak without a regulation loss is 35 games and was set by the 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers. Chicago is within striking distance but will have to extend it against the Minnesota Wild, which is one of three teams who have beaten the Blackhawks this season (of course, not in regulation).
2. How will Thomas Vanek fare in his return on Tuesday night?
Vanek currently leads the Buffalo Sabres in every primary offensive scoring category and is ranked fifth in the NHL in total points. He has failed to score a goal in his last five games and has only registered two assists during that span. In addition, he missed two games this past weekend due to an upper-body injury but has already stated that he will be back in the lineup on Tuesday. Will he have a similar return as Evgeni Malkin did on Monday? Or will he ease back into the lineup?
3. Will the Florida Panthers manage to get through Tuesday night's game without an injury?
While this is kind of an excuse to make note of the Panthers' injury troubles this season, it actually might be a realistic question. Florida has been bitten by the injury bug this year and has played the majority of the season with a lengthy list of injured players. On Tuesday morning that list was extended, as Stephen Weiss was shut down for the remainder of the season due to a wrist injury. In addition to Weiss, Jose Theodore, Dmitry Kulikov, Scottie Upshall, Mike Weaver, Kris Versteeg and Ed Jovanovski are all dealing with injuries. Will another player be added to the list on Tuesday night? (Hopefully not.)
4. Will the Flyers game against the New York Rangers be decided by a final score of 2-1?
That's been the case in the previous two meetings between the two Atlantic Division rivals this season. Philadelphia won, 2-1, on Jan. 24 at Wells Fargo Center and then the Rangers matched it five days later on Jan. 29 at Madison Square Garden. Will Tuesday's game follow suit?
5. Will Jonathan Bernier allow one goal or fewer in six-consecutive games?
Bit of a trick question, because the Los Angeles Kings starting goaltender has yet to officially be announced. However, indications from morning skate have led Jon Rosen to believe Bernier will get the nod. In five straight appearances, he has allowed one goal. If he starts tonight, will he continue the trend?
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