1. Will Jake Gardiner be a healthy scratch?
He plays the most minutes for the Maple Leafs of anyone not named Dion Phaneuf, but on Thursday, Jake Gardiner was a healthy scratch. The experiment didn't go so well, as Toronto lost to the Hurricanes, 6-1. The Leafs give up the most shots in the NHL, at 36.4 per game. Having one of your best defensemen on the ice is probably a good way to counteract that deficiency.
2. Does the Jeff Skinner show continue?
It's a little difficult to fathom the incredible stretch of hockey Jeff Skinner is going through. He has 18 goals in his last 19 games, keeping in mind he only scored three in Carolina's first 14. Carolina will take on the Blue Jackets tonight in Columbus in an important Metropolitan Division showdown.
3. Can Eddie Lack step up in Roberto Luongo's absence?
He's lost four consecutive starts, all of which Lack played while Luongo was down with groin and ankle injuries. The Canucks are 0-2-3 in their last five games, which isn't to say the goaltending has been completely to blame (and Luongo made one of those starts), but while Luongo's latest injury isn't believed to be serious, Vancouver needs strong goaltending from whoever is in net to turn things around.
4. Will John Tavares record three or more points?
The Islanders superstar seems like he gets better every night. And after an affirmation of his talent from Hockey Canada, Tavares went out and racked up three assists against the Maple Leafs. In his last two games, Tavares has put up at least three points (for a total of three goals and five assists). The Islanders will travel to Colorado Friday to try to solve the Avalanche.
5. Can the Rangers continue to dominate third periods?
The Rangers are coming off a big win against the Blackhawks in which they entered the third period tied before netting the game-winner. A nifty stat via Pat Leonard of the Daily News shows that during the Rangers' recent 6-2-1 stretch, they've outscored opponents 11-4 in third periods, while playing the other two periods even. The Rangers begin a four-game homestand Friday night versus Dallas, a team New York beat earlier this season after going into the third period with a tie score.