Bruins: Three players that must step up in the Stanley Cup playoffs

Boston fans won't be fully comfortable with Tuukka in net until he wins a playoff series. (Getty Images)
Boston fans won’t be fully comfortable with Tuukka in net until he wins a playoff series. (Getty Images)

As head coach Claude Julien and many of his players emphasized on Sunday night after their regular season finale (a 4-2 loss to Ottawa), the Bruins are looking forward to starting fresh in the postseason and hopefully putting some of their main issues (notably goal-scoring) behind them. Boston begins its 2013 postseason against Toronto on Wednesday (7 p.m., NESN) in Game 1 at TD Garden. The Bruins and Maple Leafs are meeting for the first time in the playoffs since 1974 and for the B’s to beat their Original Six and Northeast Division rivals and make another run to the Cup, they’ll need these three players (along with many others) to step up and play their best.

Tuukka Rask
It’s easy to forget that Rask hasn’t been Boston’s starting goaltender in the playoffs since three seasons ago. That ended with the Bruins historic collapse against the Flyers (up 3-0 in the series, 3-0 in Game 7 at home) in the second round. Tim Thomas is long gone and this is Tuukka’s team. It’s simplistic to say, but the B’s will likely go as far as he can take them. A hot goaltender winning big in the NHL playoffs is a recurring theme every spring and there’s no reason to think that Rask couldn’t be the latest star in that role.

 Zdeno Chara

Boston’s captain is 36-years-old with a million miles on his NHL odometer but he is still one of the most dominant players, regardless of position, in the league. He struggled a bit down the stretch (understandably looking worn down after an insane schedule) but is expected to pick things up in the playoffs. Julien will likely team Chara with Dennis Seidenberg, creating one of the NHL’s best shutdown defensive pairings. It’s quite possible that Toronto’s Phil Kessel (remember him?) will be seeing Chara in his nightmares after this series.

Milan Lucic
There are very few fights in the playoffs but that doesn’t mean that the games aren’t super physical or played with a certain edge that you just don’t see in the regular season. Enter Lucic who was a ghost for much of the year but emerged from the mist with a goal and two assists in two contests over the weekend. It couldn’t come at a better time with Nathan Horton potentially on the shelf (he missed the past five games) for at least the start of the playoffs. Lucic is one of the few Bruins forwards that can punish opponents physically and on the scoreboard.

Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter @RichSlate



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MTA announces service changes for Sunday

The MTA has announced service changes ahead of Sunday's People's Climate March, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Riders using…

Local

NYPD launches Twitter account for L train

The NYPD recently launched a Twitter handle dedicated to the L train and its riders. According to @NYPDLtrain, officers went underground Thursday morning to hand…

Local

Bushwick community space offers activists a place to…

A new Bushwick community space offers community activists to meet, create, learn and throw back a few cold ones. MayDay, located 214 Starr Street in Bushwick,…

Local

Activists gearing up for Sunday's "historic" People's Climate…

If all goes according to plan, more than 100,000 people will gather near Central Park West on Sunday morning and march through midtown to raise…

Movies

Kevin Smith makes peace with the Internet

I was thinking about Ain't It Cool News and Harry Knowles last night, wondering if anyone from Ain't It Cool had reviewed my new movie…

Movies

Art imitates life in 'Swim Little Fish Swim'

There's a certain comfort to be taken in finding that young artists are still moving to New York and trying to make it — and…

Movies

Review: Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem' is better…

Terry Gilliam's latest, "The Zero Theorem," concerns a reclusive malcontent (Christoph Waltz) struggling with the search for the meaning of life.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and a being called Emily get…

Esperanza Spalding is about to spiral off in a brand new direction that may or may include an alter ego named Emily.

NFL

Oday Aboushi ready for increased role, and to…

Oday Aboushi might feel comfortable enough to engage in some trash talk the next time he is on the field.

NFL

Giants vs. Texans: 3 things to watch

The Giants host the surprising Texans (2-0) in what may already be a must-win game for Big Blue.

NFL

Eric Decker misses practice again, could miss Monday

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker missed practice Thursday as he continues to rehab a hamstring injury suffered last Sunday.

MLB

Derek Jeter still focused on baseball as final…

Derek Jeter has effectively hid his emotions for 20 years in the Bronx.

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.

Style

3 things we love from Day 1 of…

The highlights from Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week.

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…

Sex

Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…