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April 14, 2012 | 7:49pm ET
Bruins looking to defend title
By Shawn Hutcheon, Boston Correspondent

BOSTON, MA -- The NHL's second season, the Stanley Cup playoffs, has arrived in great fashion.

Teams such as Vancouver and San Jose enjoyed deep runs last spring and are hoping to do it again, but despite their struggles, only one team has returned as defending champions; the Boston Bruins.

"That only makes things harder on us," Brad Marchand. "Teams are going to be that much more driven to beat us and it just shows that we're going to have to work even harder if we want to win again."

Patrice Bergeron added, "Going into the playoffs, you know what's at stake and every game is going to be a battle. It's going to be a tough challenge. We know every team is going to be ready to take it away from us obviously. The goal for every team is to get that ultimate prize and it's the same thing for us."

Bergeron was asked what going through four playoff rounds last season taught him.

"You're going to go through some ups and downs," he answered. "You can't worry about anyone but yourself and put yourself in a bubble. We just need to worry about ourselves and not about anyone else. We know it's going to be a battle and there are going to be new challenges and we just need to overcome them."

Bergeron went on to discuss how being a Stanley Cup champion has prepared him for this year's post-season.

"It's something you can't buy and can't teach," he said. "You just realize that it's going to be hard again this year."

Boston's leading scorer, Tyler Seguin, offered how he feels about this time of year.

"This is when the important season starts," he said. "If you're a hockey player and a competitive guy, this is when you get real excited. We're all excited."

Captain Zdeno Chara described the challenge of repeating as Stanley Cup champions.

"I think it does help to be able to have won it last year, but every year is different," Chara said. "You can't really be counting that the same thing is going to be happening. You've got to be ready for whatever comes and deal with it but it certainly does help a little bit because we showed some resiliency last year and that, for sure, helps."

Bruins head coach, Claude Julien, agrees with his players.

"Our number one goal is the same it's been every year," said the club's bench boss. "We had some ups and downs but now we start that new season that everybody gets excited about. We've got as good a chance as anybody else to win."

There is one intangible that only his team possesses that could carry it back to the Stanley Cup finals.

"Well, I simply say, it's called experience," Julien said.

When asked how that experience has made Julien a better coach, he answered, "Once you've got that experience, it makes you a better coach and the experience I gained last year, I certainly would hope to be able to utilize to my advantage this year."

The players feel that winning hockey's Holy Grail last season will help them to be better prepared for this year’s quest for the Cup, as well.

"We all have that confidence that we can sustain a long playoffs and a deep run," defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. "Now, we just have to prove it and play consistent hockey to get through all those rounds. I mean, you have to win the first round obviously, but we know we can do it and now it's up to us to be focused and determined to get there."

Shawn Thornton, who is the owner of two Stanley Cup rings, said, "It's a whole new ballgame when the playoffs begin. We just have to be ready and be excited for it."

Only one team has successfully defended the Stanley Cup in the last 14 years. The Detroit Red Wings achieved the feat in 1997 and again in 1998.

The 2012 Boston Bruins will try to do what those great Wings teams did. Each Bruins player knows what it takes to win the Stanley Cup. They are prepared physically and psychologically to have another deep run which could result in another victory parade in Boston.

Shawn Hutcheon is the Boston Correspondent for

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