5 NHL Questions: Western Conference race unsettled before Olympic Break

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

There are still questions to answer before the NHL shuts down for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

1. It's the final round of games before the Olympic break. Will any more Olympic players get injured before heading to Sochi?

The excitement surrounding the upcoming hockey tournament in Russia has been dampened by the rash of injuries sweeping the NHL. Steven Stamkos is out for Canada. Valtteri Filppula and Mikko Koivu won't play for Finland. Henrik Sedin and Johan Franzen are out for Sweden. Slovakians Marian Gaborik and Lubomir Visnovsky will say home. These are all huge absences that will affect how the tournament plays out. The participating nations will hope the final round of NHL games go off without a hitch on Saturday.

2. Can the Vancouver Canucks right the ship before the break?

The Canucks are in a full-on tailspin. They've lost six consecutive games and will head into the Olympic Break out of the playoff picture with another loss on Saturday. Their opponent, the Toronto Maple Leafs, haven't beaten them since 2003. But the Canucks are having a tough time on the road, while the Leafs own one of the league's best home records.

3. Will Dallas enter the Olympic break deadlocked with Phoenix?

For all of their struggles early in 2014, the Dallas Stars find themselves just two points back of the Phoenix Coyotes and the final wild card spot in the Western Conference. The two do battle again on Saturday, days after the Stars eked out a 3-1 win over the 'Yotes in Phoenix. Expect Mike Smith and Kari Lehtonen to put on a show between the pipes.

4. Can Detroit take advantage of a depleted Lightning lineup?

The Tampa Bay Lightning have performed admirably without Steven Stamkos for much of the season. But with Valtteri Filppula and Ben Bishop expected to be out Saturday, the Lightning will be hard-pressed to take down a healthier Detroit Red Wings team.

5. Will Claude Giroux prove the doubters wrong?

Getting snubbed once by Team Canada is tough. Getting passed over twice? That has to sting for Giroux, who was left off the roster again when GM Steve Yzerman chose Martin St. Louis to replace Steven Stamkos. With one final game remaining before everyone heads to Sochi, will Giroux put on a statement performance?

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