Will Tuukka Rask’s Play Be the Biggest Key to the Bruins’ Season?

Zdeno Chara, Tuukka RaskThe Bruins are finally a few hours away from puck drop, and the questions surrounding this team will finally begin to be answered.

With the new year comes new expectations, and for this team, those expectations are high. Two years removed from raising the Stanley Cup, and one year since a first-round playoff exit, the B’s are looking to get back on track — and quickly, considering they have just 48 games to prove their worth before the playoffs.

The biggest question looming for the Bruins this season is likely residing between the pipes — how will Tuukka Rask react to being the team’s No. 1 goaltender? While Rask’s numbers have been strong when backing up Tim Thomas, Boston will be leaning on the 25-year-old heavily in 2013 as Thomas sits the year out.

However, there are plenty of other facets of the Bruins’ game that could determine how far they go. Tyler Seguin is carrying some lofty expectations as he embarks on his third year in the NHL, and many expect the 20-year-old to take his place among the league’s best forwards after a stellar season in Europe during the lockout.

Another issue that has plagued the Bruins in the past is the team’s penchant for struggling on the power play. Special teams might be more important than ever with the shortened season putting points at a premium. With coach Claude Julien reportedly ready to shuffle some players around on the attack, some improvement on the power play could pay big dividends for the B’s.¬†Of course, due to the shortened training camps and the long lockout, teams might be struggling with injuries more than ever as the cramped schedule takes its toll on the players. Staying healthy and keeping players on the ice might have more to do with the Bruins’ success in 2013 than anything the coach could scheme up.

Tune in to NESN on Saturday, Jan. 19, at 5:30 p.m. ET for complete coverage of the Bruins’ season-opening game against the Rangers.