By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Bruins offense has struggled worse than we’ve seen in over a decade. Just imagine where they’d be if many of you got your wish and they got rid of Tuukka Rask.
Amid an anemic start in which the Bruins have scored zero even-strength goals – their worst cold streak in that department since 2007 – Rask and Jaroslav Halak have allowed just five goals in three games, giving them the third-best average in the NHL. Their 92.8 team save percentage is tied for ninth. The Bruins’ new-look, younger defense has looked solid and minimized egregious mistakes so far.
So Rask himself has reason to maintain optimism. Obviously he’s not going to throw the players in front of him under the bus. But it’s especially important to keep that calm in a locker room that’s less experienced than we’re used to seeing in Boston.
“It’s early in the season,” Rask said. “I think we’re playing really good. if we play that team defense throughout the year, I think we’re going to win a lot of games. The offense will come. We’ve just got to stick with it and not hang our heads.”
Life with Rask is still better than life without the embattled goaltender. The questions of whether he can show up – even literally – in big games will dog him until he finishes off a Stanley Cup run with a championship. But without him, the Bruins have little shot of contending in the first place. Without Rask, do the Bruins have a win yet?
But still, like Rask said, three games in is no time to write off the team. Mike Felger learned that the hard way a couple years ago. But more people should have seen the early-season offensive struggles coming. Even beyond David Pastrnak, the Bruins may simply lack the necessary firepower to hang with the top contenders in their division or across the league.
Jake DeBrusk, who will continue to play under a microscope as long as he doesn’t score any points, is echoing Rask’s optimism. The problems scoring at 5-on-5 will continue to be a lightning rod topic for the Bruins as long as literally nobody is scoring. But it’s fair to give it time before declaring that this is what the Bruins are. More than three games, anyway.
“Obviously you want to help guys out like Tuukka and Jaro,” DeBrusk said. “I know they’ve been standing on their head and making grade-A saves and we want to reward them for that. Like I said earlier, it’s a long year. We’re obviously focused on it, its obviously what everybody wants to talk about is production 5-on-5. It’s one of those things that we’re very aware of, but at the same time we have confidence in our group. We’re really stacked up front.
“Obviously with no preseason, you can use any excuse you want. But we know what we need to do, it’s just a matter of going out and executing. It sounds easier than what it is, obviously, but we have faith in this room.”
Even if the offense doesn’t come, the Bruins may be able to win a bunch of games on the strength of their goaltending and defense. It looks like Rask will be the team’s most important asset until things change.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff or send him a nasty email at email@example.com.