5 NHL questions: Can anyone beat the Ducks?

Jeff Gross

Anaheim will face a stiff test in Chicago, while Columbus is looking to inch closer to Washington and the final playoff spot in the East.

1. Will Anaheim run its winning streak to nine games?

The Ducks used a pretty simple formula to catapult themselves to the top of the NHL standings. After a 10-game December winning streak was snapped by the Sharks, Anaheim started a new streak, and has reeled off nine straight. So to recap, winning 19 of 20 games is a good way to move up in the standings. On Friday, the Ducks will travel to Chicago to face the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks in what should be another great test for Anaheim.

2. Can Columbus contain Alex Ovechkin?

After scoring just one goal in a seven game stretch in late December/early January, Ovechkin has pumped in three goals in his last four games, and is out of his mini slump. The Blue Jackets will have the benefit of making the last change, and will do whatever they can to slow down the Capitals' top scorer.

3. Is three the magic number for Chicago?

In the Blackhawks last 19 games, they've scored three goals 12 times. Of those games, they've only lost twice. Sure, any team in the league stands a better chance to win if they can score three goals, but that seems like about what it takes for the Blackhawks to win.

4. Is Nathan Horton the missing piece for Columbus?

After missing 40 games while rehabbing from shoulder surgery, Horton has provided the Blue Jackets with a much needed spark, and Columbus is 5-1 since his debut. The Blue Jackets find themselves in 12th place in the East, but just four points behind the Capitals, who they have a game in hand on.

5. Is Philipp Grubauer cementing his place over Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth?

The Capitals starting goaltender for tonight has not been announced, but it's hard to ignore how much more Grubauer is playing of late over Holtby and Neuvirth. Since Dec. 23, Grubauer has played eight times, Holtby once, and Neuvirth twice. THe rookie is getting the bulk of the playing time, and making a strong case for the full time, starting job.

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