-- The Bruins' focus is going to have to switch quickly from the rafters to the other side of the rink Thursday when they host the Philadelphia Flyers
at TD Garden.
Once the banner honoring their 2010-11 Stanley Cup championship is unveiled, the Bruins will play their first of 82, just like the other 29 NHL teams.
"It's not going to be easy. You have to put your mind in the right place," said Boston center David Krejci
after the team's practice Thursday morning. "You don't want to get carried away from the celebration and stuff before the game. So you make sure you're 100 percent before the game and after the celebration is done, the new season starts and everybody starts from zero. The main focus has to be on that."
The Bruins went through the Flyers last spring in four straight games in the conference semifinals on their way to the Cup. That followed the Flyers' historic rally from an 0-3 series deficit in 2010 in the semifinals against the Bruins, so there's definitely a rivalry between the teams. And that could work in the Bruins' favor, as they might be able to find their focus better than they would against a team with less history against them.
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"They're always a challenging opponent for us," said forward Milan Lucic
. "We kind of built that rivalry between each other over the last couple years with the Winter Classic and them coming back and winning in seven and us beating them last year in four. So there's going to be some blood boiling out there to start off this game. And I think it's a great way to start off the season with a test like this."
The Flyers players say they won't be paying much attention to their opponents' celebration. They have more important things to deal with, including blending a team that will feature eight players who didn't play for Philadelphia last season. Among the newcomers is 39-year-old future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr
, who is back in the NHL after three seasons in Russia, and center Sean Couturier
, the eighth pick of the 2011 Entry Draft.
The NHL schedule-makers didn't do the Flyers any favors by pitting them against the defending champs right out of the gate, so they'll have to forge some chemistry in a hurry.
"I think it will make everyone come together even more," said Philadelphia forward Scott Hartnell
, one of nine players who skated in both the 2010 and 2011 playoff series against the Bruins. "I don't think anyone will be thinking systems too much. You just go out there and play. We've got a couple kids on our team, this is their first NHL game, so they're going to have a lot of excitement as well. We're going to be fired up."
So the Bruins not only have to be prepared to divert their attention from the banner to the game, they also have to be on alert for a hungry opponent.
"It's opening night, so people are jacked up. I think there's always more concentration on your own team than what's going on on the other side," said Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference
. "But obviously they want to ruin the party. That's a no-brainer."