Bruins Ready to Face Nightly Challenges As Rest of NHL Comes Gunning for Reigning Cup Champs

Bruins Ready to Face Nightly Challenges As Rest of NHL Comes Gunning for Reigning Cup Champs There are plenty of benefits that come with winning the Stanley Cup. And those shiny rings and the day to do as you please with the Cup will ensure that no one will ever complain about winning.

But there are some drawbacks to winning a championship, not the least of which is the difficulty of defending it. No team has managed that feat since the Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. A big part of that challenge is knowing that every team you face the following year is going to get up for that game like a playoff contest in hopes of knocking off the champs.

"Teams always play their best against the champion," Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said earlier this week at Milan Lucic's Rock & Jock Celebrity Softball Game. "Everybody knows that in the locker room and is definitely ready for the challenge. I think it will only help us and make us better in the long run."

The Bruins know exactly how teams will get up to face them this season, because they've experienced the other side of it. Their meeting with the then-reigning champion Chicago Blackhawks on March 29 was an important measuring stick for Boston as it prepared for the playoffs.

"We definitely told ourselves, 'They're the champions, they're a very good team,'" Seidenberg said of that game, which Boston won 3-0. "Although a lot of their team wasn't there anymore, you always tell yourself they're the champion and you want to win against the champion. You get up easier for those games."

Chicago was missing many of the key players from its Cup run as the Blackhawks had to part with much of their roster in a salary-cap crunch the summer after their championship. The Bruins are in a better position, having retained the majority of their lineup with only a handful of players departing. Still, it will be a challenge to take the best shot an opponent has every night.

After a short offseason, the Bruins won't get any nights off this year with their newfound status as champions. And they wouldn't want it any other way.

"I think that's what you want," Bruins forward Nathan Horton said. "That's why we're here. It's definitely going to be tough, but we're on top right now. It's tough to stay there, everyone knows that, but we just have to be prepared to play well like we did."

While every team they face this season will know exactly who they are, the Bruins are also benefiting from that recognition right now as the Cup run has definitely increased their celebrity status around town this summer.

"People have recognized me a bit more, but it's not that uncomfortable," Seidenberg said. "It's nice. We've done something great and it's nice when people recognize you. I'm sure it will go the other way if we have a bad stretch of games. But it's fun, we had some good success and we'll just try to ride it out as long as possible."

Horton, who has eschewed any attempt at going incognito by leaving his playoff beard intact, doesn't mind that kind of attention either.

"I haven't shaved yet, so I probably look the same," Horton joked. "But it's great to be walking around and see everybody still so happy that we have Cup. Everybody loves it and we want to keep it going and keep the Cup as long as we can."

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