Boston Bruins: Until Rask improves, The Defense Can’t Rest.


Through the first six games of the season, the Boston Bruins have given up a total of 26 goals, more than any team in the league, and almost four times as many as the Montreal Canadiens, who have played one more game than them.

Certainly not all of the blame can be placed on goalie Tuukka Rask, but the $7,000,000 a year goalie has to do better than give up over four goals per game. His 4.4o goals against average is at the bottom of the league, as is his .854 save percentage. At an age (28) in which many goalies are starting to get into the prime of their careers, Rask has shown a decline in the aforementioned stats over the past three years.

He had a goals against average of 2.00 in 2012-13.  In recent years it went to 2.04, (the season he won the Vezina Trophy and was a First-Team All Star) then to 2.30 last year, and currently sits at a plump 4.40.  While his GAA has gone up, his save percentage has dropped from .930 in 2013-14, to .922 last year, to a below average .854 currently.

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Plain and simple, Rask needs to be better.  He has let in some bad goals, he has been the recipient of sarcastic cheers at home when making routine stops, but he is not entirely at fault for the performance of this team through a handful of games.

This is not the same squad that once had a core of Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, and Dougie Hamilton on the blue line. If you look at goals against, this increase in goals against seems to coincide with the departure of Boychuk prior to last year.

In Boychuk’s final three years, the Bruins gave up an average of 2.46 goals per game in 2011-12, 2.27 in the shortened 2012-13 season, and a stingy 1.91 in his final year. Is there a correlation between the progression of Boychuk’s game and the reduction in goals against? It’s tough to tell, but what isn’t tough to tell is that last year the Bruins yielded 211 goals, or 2.57 goals per game, which is a total that never happened when Boychuk wore the Black and Gold.

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  • This year they are giving up a whopping 4.33 goals per game, but that is a statistic that will hopefully start to recede.  Stalwart Dennis Seidenberg is skating hard again and may be ahead of schedule coming off of surgery to repair a lumbar spine disc herniation. Zdeno Chara is averaging over 24 minutes of ice time per game.  It’s what he’s used to, but keep in mind he’ll be 39 years old this season. If the Bruins can return to post-season play, you want the captain to have something left in the tank in late April.

    Colin Miller is at the opposite end of the spectrum when compared to Seidenberg and Chara; that is, he is just at the start of his career, and after five games hasn’t made the glaring, and costly mistakes, that others his age have made. Hopefully Miller can use the speed and shot that he impressed the AHL with last year and progress into a productive member of the defense.

    Losing a player of Dougie Hamilton’s skill level hasn’t helped, either. He played 176 games over three seasons here, and last year led all Bruins defensemen in scoring. He was the heir apparent on the blue line to Chara, and made progression in each of his three seasons here. Hamilton cannot be replaced by the likes of Kevan Miller, Zach Trotman, Joe Morrow, or Matt Irwin.

    At least Adam McQuaid is playing consistently, but his next full season in a Bruins uniform will be his first in the five years he’s been here.  This team needs to start performing better from the goalie on up.  They need to button up their own end, otherwise the power play can score four times a game and it still might not be enough.

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