Christmas came a little late for Boston Bruins Fans this year, as the we are just over an hour away from the drop of the puck for the 2013 NHL season. While it feels like ages since the team took the ice, the painful Game 7 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals should serve as a reminder that this team has unfinished business. As magical as the 2011 Stanley Cup run was for the franchise and its fans, the upcoming 2013 NHL season has the potential to take the team and its rabid followers to even greater heights. Gone is the Stanley Cup hangover of 2012. In it's place should be an intense level of optimism about this team's chances to make a strong playoff run in the spring. While the Bruins have a potent mix of youth, talent, experience, and skill, there are some major questions that must be answered in order for the team to succeed.
1) Can Tuukka Rask replace Tim Thomas as an elite playoff goaltender?
Any chance the Bruins have of taking back Lord Stanley’s Cup rest on the broad shoulders of 25 year old Tuukka Rask. Rask’s numbers (.931 save percentage, 1.97 goals against) as the Bruins starter in the 2009-2010 season suggest he is more than capable of consistent regular season production. Rask’s only foray into the postseason however, saw him become the first goaltender in NHL history to blow a 3-0 series lead. Since the previous lockout, five of the seven Stanley Cup champions have been carried by a list of dominant goalies that includes Cam Ward, Jean Sebastein-Giguere, Marc-Andre Fleury, Jonathan Quick, and most notably, Boston’s own Tim Thomas. While there are numerous elements that will play a role in the Bruins success, none of them matter nearly as much as Rask’s performance come the post-season. Given his age, commitment, and potential, Rask certainly posses all of the necessary tools. If Rask can bring them all together for the playoffs, the Bruins might just be raising another better come June.
2) Is this the year General Manager Peter Chiarelli makes a major roster move?
Since 2008 there have been numerous big-name trade targets associated with the Bruins. Given their defense first philosophy, the team has seemingly lacked that “dynamic” scorer who is cut from the mold of a Rick Nash or Alex Ovechkin. In the last year alone names such as Jarome Iginla, Dustin Brown, and Bobby Ryan have all been reported to have drawn interest from the Bruins front office. The team has plenty of young pieces to move, but a trade for any big-name scorer, would likely cost the Bruins at least one of their starting forwards, as well as trading of high draft picks, something that Chiarelli has been reluctant to do. Given the frenetic pace of the schedule and the added importance of every game a win-now approach will be critical to the teams success. If the Bruins struggle out of the gate, this might finally be the year that Chiarelli pulls the trigger on a major trade.
All signs seem to point to an emphatic yes. Seguin has bulked up to over 180 lbs, and given his production in his time in Swiss Nation League A (25 goals and 15 assists in 29 games) early indications suggest that Seguin has shown no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Like Rask, Seguin must overcome his most recent playoff disaster against Washington (just three points in seven games). There will also undoubtedly be more pressure to carry the Bruins offense, which has at times has been somewhat inconsistent on a team with this level of talent. But at just 20 years old, Seguin’s experience and talent might just make him the most dynamic forward in the history of the franchise.
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