Bruins hope to build on Stanley Cup run

Boston goalie Tim Thomas was a key part of his team's run to a Stanley Cup title last season, the Bruins' first since 1972. Boston opens its title defense on Thursday.

BOSTON — The Boston Bruins still have Tim Thomas, and they’ve added something they think might be even more important as they try to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.

“It’s called experience,” coach Claude Julien said of the lessons he learned in the Bruins’ title run last year. “Once you’ve got that experience, it makes you a better coach, and the experience I gained last year, I certainly hope to be able to utilize to my advantage this year.”

The Bruins won their first NHL championship since 1972 last year, thanks largely to the Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophy-winning Thomas. Like their coach, those players have another year of experience and the confidence of knowing they can win it all.

“I feel good about our team,” Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said on Sunday. “I think we have more skill, because I think our skill has matured from last year. It’s so tight, I mean you’ve got to get some luck along the way, but I think we’ve got as good a chance as any to come out of the East.”

The defending Stanley Cup champions earned the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. They begin their title defense against the Washington Capitals on Thursday night at the TD Garden.

“Going into the playoffs you know what’s at stake, and I mean every game is going to be a battle,” forward Patrice Bergeron said.

Last year, Boston escaped Montreal in a seven-game series in the first round, and after sweeping Philadelphia they beat Tampa Bay in another seventh game to advance to the Stanley Cup finals. The Bruins beat the Canucks in Game 7.

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