The injury riddled Boston Bruins head west for the California Gauntlet. Coming off back to back frustrating losses, the Bruins will need their elite goaltender to step up and deliver on this road trip.
The Bruins severely lack depth at center with players like Sean Kuraly forced into playing second line minutes. Their defensive core includes 20-year-old Brandon Carlo and 19-year-old Charlie McAvoy, who are not bad players, but simply young players prone to defensive mistakes.
The Bruins are a wounded animal, literally and figuratively and this is where they will need their number one goaltender to give them a chance, as they head out west. Rask has to be better. That is no question, but can he be better? Absolutely. Remember last season when he started 12-4-1 with a 1.64 GAA and a .945 save percentage through the months of October and November? This is the same goalie who posted numbers at or above the league average. In his three season since winning the vezina Rask's .922 save percentage in 2014-15 was above the league's average of .915, in the following year his .915 mark were directly at the league average of .915 and last season's .915 mark was above the .913 league average. The point is when your goaltender's "worst seasons" are still at the league's average that is pretty solid. One must also factor in the Bruins defensive decline as the team's blue line has underwent massive changes since Rask won the vezina in 2014
Regardless of the team in front of him, Rask must elevate his playing heading into California. A team shouldn't rely on their goalie to steal games, but Rask may just have to and he's proven capable in the past. He is the solution, not the problem, in fact he arguably is the least of the Bruins' concerns. He may no longer be "elite" to most of the hockey world, but for the Bruins sake he'll need to be.
Photo: (Getty Images)