By Shane Darrow on August 5, 2014
The Boston Bruins won their first President's Trophy since 1990 last year after earning 117 points in the regular season, but fell short in the postseason when they were upset by the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. With the pressure on the Bruins to repeat as Eastern Conference champions, here are five questions they must answer by October.
He may have had a short stint in Boston, but he certainly left a mark in Beantown. Iginla finished third on the team in scoring last season with 61 points, and now that he's in Colorado, someone is going to have to step up and play on the top line. If there's one guy who may need to become a bigger part of the offense this year, it's Reilly Smith, who had 51 points last season and is the best natural right winger on the roster.
Milan Lucic certainly didn't gain many fans last postseason. His disparaging post-game comments and countless unsportsmanlike acts on the ice have made him one of the most hated players in hockey. The Bruins can either try and ignore the fact that these incidences ever happened, or they could embrace Lucic's toppled on hatred. At 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, Lucic will have no problem standing up for himself.
When Tuukka Rask stepped in for Tim Thomas, there were many critics, myself included, who weren't sure if he was the guy to take the Bruins to the promise land. So far, he has done just enough to keep the Bruins relevant, and he even took them to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2013, but he has yet to be declared an elite goaltender. In order for that to happen, Rask needs to enter the 2014-15 season ready to be at the top of his game, then stay there.
The last two years for the Boston Bruins have been frustrating to say the least. Two years ago, they were two wins away from a Stanley Cup, and then last year, they had ended the regular season with the best record in the NHL, but were upset by the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. They've been so close that they can nearly taste the Stanley Cup, but they need to understand it's a new year and come in composed.
The Bruins have been one of the best regular season teams for a while now, but for the past three seasons, they've lacked an X-factor who can get them over the hump. When they won the Stanley Cup in 2011, Brad Marchand was the guy who elevated his game to the next level when it was needed most. The Bruins need to find that guy again, and I believe that they will find it in Loui Eriksson, who is a three-time 70-point getter in the NHL.
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