NHL schedule: Five questions for Thursday

Claus Andersen

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 Winnipeg Jets be eliminated from postseason contention?

The Eastern Conference's eight playoff teams will be decided on Thursday night in the event of a regulation loss by the Jets. Regardless of any other contest, Winnipeg will be eliminated without gaining at least one point. Of course, other scenarios exist where the Jets' fate could be determined by the results of the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators games.

2. Will any playoff spots be clinched in the Western Conference?

Just like the East, there are two spots available in the West. The Minnesota Wild can grab a spot in the event of the Dallas Stars defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Detroit Red Wings can get in with a win and a Stars win. They also get in with an overtime loss and a regulation loss by the Stars.

3. What is Erik Karlsson's return going to consist of?

Karlsson is defying the odds by returning from an Achilles Tendon laceration that occurred in February. He was averaging around 27 minutes per game prior to his injury. While it seems unlikely that he will play that much, it will be interesting to see what kind of ice-time minutes he gets and in what situations.

Hopefully, the answer to this won't involve any kind of setback or re-injury.

4. Will an All-Staal line be used by the Carolina Hurricanes?

Jared Staal will be in the lineup tonight. In case you don't know, he is the youngest of the four Staal brothers. With his brothers Eric and Jordan also on the Hurricanes, we hope that an all-Staal line will be used at some point. As of Thursday afternoon, it's expected that Jared will play on a line with Jordan.

5. Will the St. Louis Blues overtake the fourth seed in the West?

The Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks are tied at 47 points with the Kings currently in fourth. With a win against the Calgary Flames on Thursday, the Blues will jump into fourth place.

More in the NHL:

A day in the life of an off-ice official

On being wrong about the Blue Jackets

Six (!) outdoor games in 2014

The best of our hockey network

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