Can you believe it? The Boston Bruins are back on the ice, already. The Stanley Cup champion Bruins open their season at home against the Philadelphia Flyers Thursday night.
The team's abnormally short offseason was music to fans' ears. The Bruins played ice hockey well into the warm days of June, storming through the playoffs to capture the franchise's first Stanley Cup since 1972.
Before Thursday's game, the B's will raise the championship banner and skate a few laps with the Cup held high. Then, though, it's down to business.
The Bruins hope they can become the first NHL team to repeat as champions since the Red Wings won back-to-back titles in 1997 and '98. It won't be easy, according to Comcast SportsNet's Gary Tanguay.
"They need to be hungry," Tanguay said. "Sometimes success eliminates the hunger."
After a grueling eight-month season and a summer spent celebrating, the team hasn't had much time for rehab.
"The NHL playoffs — to me, it's right there with the NFL," Tanguay said. "It's the most intense, it is the most grueling postseason of all. That's why I think it's difficult to repeat."
The Bruins will need goalie Tim Thomas to continue his stellar run of play if they are to have a shot. Thomas, the 2011 playoffs MVP, will start the majority of the team's regular season games, even with one of the league's best backups in Tuukka Rask on the roster.
"[Thomas is] heading towards 40, so they need to take care of him during the regular season," Tanguay said. "It doesn't matter where you finish in the regular season, we all know that, the playoffs are a different ball game."
Last season, the Bruins finished the year as the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, but managed to win three playoff series en route to the Stanley Cup final. There, the team faced the heavily favored Vancouver Canucks. After heading to the brink, the Bruins snatched the Cup from Vancouver after a 4-0 Game 7 victory.
Though the long playoff campaign inevitably took its toll, both physically and mentally, the core of the championship squad remains intact and has the added experience of succeeding in the pressure cooker of the NHL playoffs.
"They all know each other, the chemistry's there," Tanguay said. "They know the coach, they've been through it together — that's huge. However, they need to player better, they need to score more goals, they need to get more offense out of this crew."
It's impossible to know what to expect out of the 2011-12 Boston Bruins. Defenseman Zdeno Chara will lead the blueliners. Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci will hope to provide that offensive spark. Thomas will be the backstop. But once the puck drops Thursday, the 2011 Stanley Cup will only be a nice trophy, not a goal.
"They were not supposed to come close to beating Vancouver, not even close. So they know anything can happen," Tanguay said. "And when guys know that, they fight to the final whistle, they fight to the final buzzer."
This program aired on October 6, 2011.