How will Tuukka Rask perform?
This isn't Rask's first time being tabbed as the Bruins starter. Rask started 45 games in 2009-2010 when Tim Thomas was suffering from a hip injury and performed exceptional. The goalie who has been called the Bruins goalie of the future, finished that season with a 1.97 goals against and a .931 save percentage, both good for best in the league. But we all know how that season ended, with the Bruins blowing a 3-0 series lead to the Flyers.
Can Rask handle being a No.1 goalie in a shorten season? The answer is yes. He should see plenty of playing time with only 48 games, and he is on a one-year contract. Rask is trying to prove to the Bruins brass that he can be the No. 1 and he will.
Rask played in the Czech Republic during the lockout and should be in good shape to start the season. He went 6-2 with a 1.85 goals against average and a .936 save percentage.
Who fills Benoit Pouliot's spot?
If one of the biggest holes to fill your roster is who is going to be the third line winger, then your probably in good shape. That's exactly what the Bruins have. The only opening on the roster is on the third line with Chris Kelly and rich Peverely. For awhile it's been thought that one of the young AHL players would get a chance to start there but the Bruins have reportedly invited Jay Pandolfo to training camp, adding a twist to this competition. The leading AHL candidates include Chris Bourque, Jamie Tardif, Ryan Spooner, and Lane MacDermid. The Bruins have also invited veteran Jay Pandolfo to training camp. Right now, I'd give the edge to Bourque starting the season in Boston.
Will Tyler Seguin play like he did in Switzerland?
There is no reason to think that just because Seguin is back in North America it means he won't continue to light up the scoreboard. While we should temper our expectations (he's most likely not going to score 25 goals in 29 games), but he's still going to emerge as a star. Claude Julien's defensive system may hinder his offensive output somewhat, but it shouldn't be a lot. Playing with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand again, Seguin should build on his sophomore season and be on his way to becoming a superstar.
Hamilton will be in Boston to start the season. The only other option would be to send him back to the OHL, but he's done everything he can there. Bringing him to Boston allows him to learn from Julien and the veteran defensemen. HE will probably be brought along similarly to Seguin, playing limited minutes while he tries to figure out the NHL game. We shouldn't expect too much from him this season but he will put up some points this season.
How will the short season affect the Bruins?
The Bruins are actually in good shape following the lockout. They had 12 players playing overseas plus Hamilton in the OHL, so game shape shouldn't be too much of a concern. Those who weren't playing have ben holding informal skates all along so they should have some conditioning but it'll probably take a game or two for them to get up to game speed.
The Bruins also return practically the same time from the last two seasons. Training camp should be much easier because of that. They can focus almost entirely on conditioning instead of learning systems and playing styles.Tags: Boston, Boston Bruins, Chris Kelly, Hockey, Jay Pandolfo, NHL, Patrice Bergeron, Ryan Spooner, Tyler Seguin