Happy New Year! Hope everyone had a great holiday and thanks again for writing in! We've got some great questions here to answer once again. What will happen with Tuukka Rask? Is the Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton line really the top line? Will the Bruins try to acquire Zach Parise if the Devils winger is made available? All this and more answered here in the Bruins mailbag!
Q: I know the Bruins are red-hot, but don't you expect the Canucks to give them a good game Saturday? I think Vancouver will be fired up. What do you expect in Saturday's game? -- Bill J. (Mass.)
Q: Do you expect any fireworks when the Bruins and Canucks play Saturday. Maybe someone on the Canucks going after Marchand or someone on the B's going after Rome? -- Will (Pittsfield, Mass.)
A: Bill and Will, I definitely think the Canucks will be fired up to make a statement in this game and should provide a better challenge than the Bruins saw in their last two games -- a 6-1 win over the Devils and 9-0 rout of Calgary. That being said it should be interesting to see how they react to what is sure to be a raucous crowd in what was a house of horrors for them, TD Garden.
As for fireworks, there will be no Aaron Rome due to injury, but Alex Burrows and Maxim Lapierre will surely be yapping it up. Also one has to wonder if the Sedins, Henrik and Daniel, will look to get an extra hit on Brad Marchand, who rattled them both off their games in the finals.
The Bruins are downplaying this game but I think we will see a playoff-type game and definitely a playoff atmosphere!
Q: In one of your recent columns, Rask said about the starting position: "I haven't really put a lot of thought into it, but he's [Thomas] got a year left on his contract and mine is up obviously, but I want to stay here. I'm sure they have a plan for that too." Chiarelli also hinted, in an interview, that Rask would be the guy when Thomas' contract expires. Do you see Rask as the starter in two years and what will be the cost to retain him? -- Luc (Montreal)
A: Luc, yes I do see Tuukka Rask as the starter in two seasons. As I've pointed out here numerous times, if I were Peter Chiarelli and the salary cap dictated that I either trade Tim Thomas or Rask, I'd trade Thomas and soon, while his value is still so high and keep the younger Rask. But all of that being said, I agree with Rask that the Bruins must have a plan in place and will be able to extend Rask this summer and still afford Thomas for another season. As Chiarelli said in that recent piece on Rask I wrote, he is part of the future and based on his track record, Chiarelli will find a way to make that happen.
Q: What's going on with the first line? I know Horton had the concussion but he looks like a ghost out there. Lucic is the only one that plays consistently -- yea he gets hot and cold scoring wise but he's hitting people. Don't get me started on David Krejci. I think the Bruins screwed up in giving him that contract so early. How can we upgrade this "first" line? -- Josh (Winthrop, Mass.)
A: I am guessing you wrote this prior to the games against New Jersey and Calgary because in those two games, the Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton line has caught fire and the Bruins' depth is on full display. But I do agree that they have been too inconsistent as a line and need to contribute more. I think the problem as one reader pointed out in a recent mailbag here, is that what can Claude Julien do to jump-start them? He can't really break up the other lines because of how great they have been. He could bench one of them possibly but I don't see that happening. I think patience is his only choice and that patience might just be paying off. As for the extension they gave to Krejci, I can see where you're coming from, but doing that took the pressure off Krejci in a contract year, and it also makes him a very marketable player on the trade market. Reasonable contract and still young. With the cap going down next season, if the Bruins -- who already have depth at center -- decide to unload one for another need, they have that trade chip.
Q: With how the past 3 1/2 seasons have gone for Tim Thomas -- 2 vezinas plus a stanley cup and a cup MVP. Now half way through this season -- Bruins number one, plus having the best goal tending in the league. Is this not the GREATEST short term run a goaltender has ever had? With that being said, if this year Timmy Time ends up with another Vezina or Cup does that make him a HOF? -- Douglas Gauthier (Watertown, Mass.)
A: If you're asking me should Tim Thomas be inducted into the Hall of Fame if he repeats what he did last season, I say yes. But I don't get to vote and unfortunately there are plenty of politics that go into that. There's so many players out there that should've been at least nominated if not inducted and I think some voters will hold the short stretch of this success versus a lengthy career of success as well as his style against him. But he has my vote if I ever get one.
Q: Is the Bergeron-Seguin-Marchand line one of the most efficient in the league? Just wondering ... Which other line in the league is in this ballpark? -- Michel Leger (Moncton, New Brunswick)
A: The Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin line is definitely one of the most efficient in the NHL and probably the best two-way line out there. Both Bergeron and Marchand are great at both ends of the ice and you can see how much Seguin has improved in that respect as well. One could easily argue they are truly the Bruins' No. 1 line with the way they've carried this team and also with the way the line of Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton has faltered at times this season.
Q: Hey Guys, if New Jersey falters here and ends up being on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, does Zach Parise end up getting traded? What would the price be and would the Bruins be interested? Maybe something like Hamil, Kampfer and a 1st rounder or am I just dreaming here? Thanks guys! -- Greg (South Hadley, Mass.)
Q: Would the Bruins be interested in bringing Zach Parise aboard? If so, what will it take to do so? Are they better off waiting until July 1 or would they be better off trying to make the move at the deadline? -- Aly (Boston)
A: Greg and Aly, first off, while the Devils didn't look so hot recently, getting throttled by the Bruins 6-1 at home, they have been playing a lot better than expected this season and one has to believe if they're in the playoff hunt, Parise isn't going anywhere during the season. I still think the Devils will re-sign their captain but if he were made available I would look for the type of deal we have seen a lot more in recent summers where teams trade the rights to a player. But if the Bruins or another team is interested, they better be prepared to trade a boatload for the rights to Parise. I would think the starting point would be the likes of maybe David Krejci, Dougie Hamilton and a first- or second-round pick.
James Murphy covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. Ask a question for his next Bruins mailbag here.