Bruins back on ice to defend Stanley Cup


BOSTON -- Most of the Boston Bruins are looking forward to seeing the "2011 Stanley Cup Champions" banner hanging from the rafters at the TD Garden.

Coach Claude Julien is more concerned about what happens next.

"It's going to be an emotional night, and somehow we're going to have to find a way to shift into gear here and realize that we also have a game to win," Julien said at the team's media day this week as he looked ahead to the regular-season opener against the Philadelphia Flyers. "And that's a challenge in itself."

The Bruins are planning a pregame ceremony tonight to raise their sixth NHL championship banner and recognize the team that earned it by beating the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. Along the way, they eliminated the Flyers, sweeping them in the second round one year after Philadelphia rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Flyers captain Chris Pronger said it will be tough to have to watch the pregame festivities, but he hopes it will just make them hungrier for one of their own.

"It's never fun when you have to go into the opposing team's building and there's a ceremony, especially one that's as significant as this one," Pronger said. "You can use that to your advantage. You can look and see the emotions of what they're doing and hope you're doing the same thing next year."

Bruins president Cam Neely would not divulge any details of the ceremony in order to maintain the surprise for the fans. But Julien is already worrying about how his team will respond to the emotions -- not just in the first game, but for a whole season when other teams will be aiming at the defending champs.

"We earned that right, and our fans earned that right to experience it. That's just a part of winning a Stanley Cup," he said. "I think our team is mature enough to be able to handle that."

Julien and general manager Peter Chiarelli have already discussed fighting the possible hangover that often comes a year after a team wins a championship. Chiarelli said he discussed strategies with several previous winners, and the only consistent advice was that it's real and unavoidable.

Among the concerns: The players will be tired, either mentally or physically, after the shortest offseason in franchise history.