NHL schedule: Five questions for Sunday


A daily feature which asks the five hardest-hitting questions imaginable about this day in the NHL. Will our quandaries be answered? (Yes, we really thought of five for Senators-Bruins)

1. Okay, so where's everyone going to end up after Sens-Bruins Sunday night? There are three ways the Eastern Conference can shake out based on tonight's results. Let's list them again.

If Boston wins in 60 minutes: The Bruins will win the Northeast Division and take on the Islanders in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Montreal will drop to fourth and host the Maple Leafs. The Senators stay in eighth and, oh boy, get a date with the Penguins in the first round.

If Boston wins in overtime or a shootout: Boston wins the Northeast, but the Senators will likely be able to stick around in Beantown if they want, as they'll hold a tiebreaker over the Islanders and get the seventh seed, facing the Bruins in round one. The Leafs would still face the Habs, and the Isles are thrown into the Penguins' den.

If Ottawa wins, period: Ottawa still gets the seventh seed, but everything else shakes up. The Canadiens will win the Northeast Division and host the Senators in the Conference Quarters. The Bruins stay in fourth and will host the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Islanders will be forced to take on the Penguins.

2. Where does everyone want to end up after Sens-Bruins Sunday night? The Bruins have won four one-goal games over the Senators so far this season, so maybe an overtime/shootout win might be the best ending for Boston. Though everyone secretly thinks they can take the Islanders, and the Leafs often look appetizing because you can dominate them in terms of shots. The problem right now isn't those other teams, it's Boston, who's heading down the stretch on a far from fear-striking 4-4-2 record.

3. Is Milan Lucic playoff ready? The man they call Looch was scratched from the Boston lineup just eight days and four games ago. He stands at 26 points, far from what you'd like -- even in a shortened season -- from a man coming off consecutive 60-point seasons. Plus, there's that fat contract he's owed starting next season. That said, he potted a goal and added an assist in Washington on Saturday night, so maybe he's getting himself right again.

4. Is Ottawa playoff ready? The Senators have lost three out of four, including a dispirited 2-1 loss at home to the Flyers on Saturday night. They're ending on a 5-5-0 stretch that doesn't exactly exude confidence either. This all despite getting starting goaltender Craig Anderson back. If a returning Erik Karlsson doesn't jump them, what will?

5. Jeez, isn't it a bummer Columbus couldn't get in? Okay, I'll admit, I couldn't come up with five questions for one game, especially one that isn't do-or-die for either club involved. But man, I really wanted to see the Blue Jackets get in over the Wild, especially after Minnesota wasted that late power play opportunity just killing the clock. You can't say they backed into the post-season, because they did it by winning a last game in which they controlled their destiny. But they kind of backed into winning the game. It's very annoying, especially after seeing this photo.


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