NHL.com is providing in-depth analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, three questions facing the Boston Bruins.
After qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in three seasons, the Boston Bruins will look to make a run past the Eastern Conference First Round, which they lost to the Ottawa Senators in six games last season.
1. Can Tuukka Rask rest?
The Bruins wanted to rest Rask more last season, but injuries and a fruitless search for a reliable backup goalie early in the season forced him to play 65 games, one more than the prior season. But backup Anton Khudobin went 6-1-0 late in the season after a 1-5-1 start, and the Bruins hope he'll duplicate that late-season play and give Rask a chance to rest. Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre return and will compete with Khudobin for the No. 2 job.
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2. Who plays with David Krejci?
The Bruins have one of the most potent two-way forward duos in the NHL with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron playing together. Regardless of who plays on the right wing with them, they create a dangerous first line. But the Bruins have been searching for a perennial wing for center David Krejci since trading left wing Milan Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings on June 26, 2015. After two injury-plagued seasons, Krejci played all 82 games and his 23 goals were his most since 2011-12. The Bruins will need even more from him, and being another season removed from hip surgery should help him return to form. But the Bruins must get Krejci some help. Fellow Czech Republic native David Pastrnak, who spent much of last season with Marchand and Bergeron and was second on the Bruins with 34 goals (behind Marchand's 39), could be the answer on Krejci's right side, or Krejci might have to groom a younger player or two among a group that includes Frank Vatrano, Anders Bjork and Danton Heinen. There's no doubt the Bruins will continue shopping for a wing to play with Krejci.
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3. Which prospects are ready to fill major roles?
Defenseman Charlie McAvoy's six-game NHL debut in the playoff loss to the Senators was so impressive the Bruins have the 19-year-old penciled into their top four. He needs to be ready because the Bruins lack depth on defense. Brandon Carlo, who is entering his second NHL season, was on the top pair all of last season but there's no telling if the sophomore jinx might raise its ugly head.
At forward, the Bruins are going to count on some combination of the above-mentioned young wings, along with Zach Senyshyn, Peter Cehlarik and Jake Debrusk, to earn a roster spot or two in training camp.