Skip to main content

Five Questions: Rask's experience biggest concern

by Shawn P. Roarke /

The Boston Bruins are less than two years removed from their Stanley Cup championship, clinched with a comeback for the ages against the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Final.

Amazingly, much of the core from that championship remains in place as the Bruins advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs again, sitting in the top half of the Eastern Conference bracket.

Boston coach Claude Julien still has Zdeno Chara to play on the blue line for nearly half a game, and still has a top six -- anchored by Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Tyler Seguin -- which scores by committee.

Even with all that continuity from the 2011 championship team, the Bruins have a number of questions to answer as they begin their quest for a second Stanley Cup in three seasons.

Here are the five biggest questions facing the Bruins this postseason:

1. Is Tuukka Rask a Cup-winning goalie?

Rask has been brilliant this season. So good, in fact, he has garnered serious consideration for the Vezina Trophy. But Rask has little experience in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Tim Thomas backstopped Boston to its title in 2011 with Rask occupying the best seat in the house. Rask did play 13 games in the 2010 postseason, finishing with 2.61 goals-against average and .912 save percentage.

2. Can the Bruins score enough goals?

Boston has been a defense-first team under Julien. However, the team's lack of offense this season has been perplexing at times and could portend trouble during a long playoff run. The Bruins sit among the bottom-feeders in goals scored this season and have been outscored by every playoff team in the East except the Ottawa Senators and the New York Rangers.

3. Will Zdeno Chara survive the workload?

The Bruins' perennial Norris Trophy candidate is playing close to 25 minutes a game this season. Nine playoff-bound defensemen have played more -- and all are younger than Chara, who is 36. Since April 10, Chara has one goal and two assists and is a minus-3, and he has appeared to struggle in his own end more than any time in recent memory.

4. Can the Bruins score on the power play?

Boston's power play is converting at 14.5 percent, the lowest efficiency rate among the Eastern Conference qualifiers. But will those struggles derail Boston's Cup hopes? It was not the case in 2011, when the Bruins clicked at 11.4 percent across 25 games. However, the power-play struggles certainly made things more difficult, and the Bruins prefer to avoid that exercise in frustration again.

5. Which Milan Lucic will show up?

In 2011, Lucic had a career-high 30 goals and a career-best 62 points. He also was a career-best plus-28 that season. In the playoffs, he played with the snarl and menace that made him one of the most-feared power forwards in the game. This season, that swagger has been missing. He has six goals, and at one point was a healthy scratch because he has not played with the physicality that must define his game. Boston needs the Lucic who sets the tone if they want to have the upper hand in the postseason.

View More