Do the 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings uncork the bubbly after every defending Stanley Cup champion is eliminated from the postseason?
If the last NHL team to repeat as Cup champs had a ritual like the one the 1972 Miami Dolphins perform every time the last NFL team in a given season falls from the ranks of the unbeaten, those old-time Wings had to be a little worried they'd never get to taste the champagne as the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs commenced.
Deeper on defense than when they won last season, seemingly deeper up front with the emergence of Tyler Seguin as a star and still riding the all-world goaltending of Tim Thomas, the Bruins seemed like one of the surer bets among recent defending champions to at least drive deep into the playoffs.
And then with one backhand shovel into the back of the Boston net, Joel Ward ended the Bruins' title defense before the calendar even turned to May. Here are the five biggest reasons the Bruins couldn't get out of the first round and couldn't defend their Cup championship:
1. Top six was see-through
Rich Peverley was forced into the Bruins' top six because of Nathan Horton's injury absence, and had three goals in the seven-game series against Washington. Of Boston's other 12 goals, four came from "top-six forwards." And Seguin (two goals), David Krejci and Brad Marchand (one apiece), didn't find the back of the net until Game 5. That was too long for the Bruins to wait for production from their best players. And in Game 7, Seguin scored at the end of probably the only shift he, Krejci and Milan Lucic really played like a first line.