Monday's burning questions | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaMonday's burning questions

Posted: Monday, April 23, 2012 | 07:09 PM

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The New York Rangers will need a superb effort from Marian Gaborik, right, if they hope to extend their series against Erik Karlsson, left, and the Ottawa Senators on Monday night. (Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images) The New York Rangers will need a superb effort from Marian Gaborik, right, if they hope to extend their series against Erik Karlsson, left, and the Ottawa Senators on Monday night. (Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

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Hockey Night in Canada's Elliotte Friedman wonders whether the New York Rangers' best players during the regular season will be up for the task in Monday's burning questions.
Rangers/Senators (Senators lead 3-2):

Will the Rangers' best players be their best players?

A scout I regularly talk to always uses that line to describe each playoff series.

"I know I say it all the time," he laughs. "But it's true."

New York's top three scorers from the regular season (Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Ryan Callahan) are among their top post-season point-getters, with three in five games. But, they haven't put their individual stamps on this series.

Gaborik, in fact, was bullied off the puck right before Jason Spezza's empty-net Game 5 clincher. You could tell Spezza was tired of answering questions about not scoring -- he had just two assists in four games beforehand -- so he stepped up with both goals in the 2-0 win.

Those three Rangers need to answer, especially with Brian Boyle out. If not, a long offseason begins in Manhattan.

Coyotes/Blackhawks (Coyotes lead 3-2):

Is Phoenix playing with fire?

You could make an argument that this series should be over. Four times in five games the Coyotes blew third-period leads, losing two of them. The worst thing about it is the team's identity is in playing tight and protecting those leads.

There is no way Phoenix wants a Game 7 against the Blackhawks. Even without Marian Hossa, the Blackhawks have the higher-end talent. Even without Hossa, the Coyotes have more injury concerns. And you can see Jonathan Towes coming on after his own concussion issues.

There will be so much on the line if Phoenix faces a deciding game. Much better for them to seal it tonight.

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