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This Friday will be different from all other Fridays, because in honor of Passover (which starts tonight), I'll be asking four questions instead of listing five thoughts as I normally do.
Yes, I came up with that joke all by myself and, yes, I'll be here all week. Anyways, here we go:
1. Can the Winnipeg Jets make the playoffs without Dustin Byfuglien? 
NHL: FEB 12 Jets at PredatorsAs TSN 1290's Rick Ralph pointed out to me, the Jets were actually 6-3 without "Big Buff" in the lineup during the month of March. That has to bring a sense of comfort and optimism. That said, the intensity gets ratcheted up as we get closer and closer to the playoffs, and therefore, being without your top dog on defense becomes more and more difficult to play through. 
Also working against them is the fact that Los Angeles seems to have woken up, and I don't see the Kings forfeiting a playoff spot to Winnipeg. They've also got a firm hold on the ROW tiebreaker, should it come down to that. 
So, to summarize: No -- I don't think they can, but I also don't think they could even if Byfuglien hadn't been suspended. 
2. Can the Islanders regain second place in the Metro and a home ice advantage in the first round? 
Boy, have things gone south for the Isles lately. They've fallen from atop the division to third place, and as things currently stand, they'd play Washington in the first round. That could all change in a heartbeat, but in any event, it's going to be difficult for New York to hold onto that second spot (if they get it back), given the way the subpar brand of hockey they're playing. 
There's no chance they're missing the playoffs, but home ice? I just don't see it, barring a significant attitude and performance shift. 
3. Are we giving enough credit to Senators' players not named Andrew Hammond? 
No, we are not. Hammond's been a phenomenal story, but nobody's really talking about the major contributions coming from two of Ottawa's younger forwards -- Mark Stone (11 points in his last ten games) and J.G. Pageau. 
Mike Hoffman's been garnering attention, as have Mika Zibanejad and Curtis Lazar, but as a whole, this forward group has several unheralded guys. Even Alex Chiasson has had his moments. 
I think that's something you definitely want to build off of, even if the Sens don't end up making the playoffs this year. 
4. Is Columbus the real deal or is this just a mirage?
They're the real deal, and not just because they've won eight games in a row. This is a team that was decimated by injuries all year long and, now that they're healthy, are back on track. Don't forget, they almost knocked Pittsburgh out of the first round last season. 
Needless to say, the Metropolitan Division is going to be even more interesting in 2015-16.