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Can Boston Avoid a Stanley Cup (Final) Hangover?

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Win or lose, the Stanley Cup hangover is a phenomenon any team playing in June must face the following fall. So the question becomes, how will Boston respond?

Gail Oskin

Here's a stat for you: Since the 2005-2006 NHL season, the team that lost in the Stanley Cup Final has advanced past the second round of the playoffs the following year just one time (Pittsburgh, 2008).

The 2009 Detroit Red Wings and 2010 Philadelphia Flyers made it to the Conference Semi-Finals, the 2007 Ottawa Senators and 2011 Vancouver Canucks were eliminated in the Conference Quarterfinals, while the 2006 Edmonton Oilers and 2012 New Jersey Devils missed the playoffs entirely.

In other words, the Stanley Cup hangover doesn't just apply to the winner. How will Boston respond this year?

Well for starters, it won't be the same team taking the ice this October. The familiar faces of Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley, Andrew Ference, Nathan Horton, and Jaromir Jagr will not be seen coming down the tunnel on opening night.

That's quite the turnover for a team that was just over a minute removed from forcing a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final.

The only new players we know for sure to be joining the club are Jarome "It's Complicated" Iginla and Loui Eriksson. Both were high profile off-season acquisitions by general manager Peter Chiarelli.

Chiarelli's uncharacteristically aggressive moves serve two purposes for his team: 1) It displays a "win now" mentality, and 2) It provides fresh, determined reinforcements to try and stave off any lingering affects still felt following the shocking Game 6 loss to Chicago.

But is it enough?

With the addition of a couple veterans and the departure of some young blood, the average age of a Boston Bruin is now 28 years old. In the weird world of hockey, that's qualifies as an "aging core." There's likely to at least one baby-faced addition to the roster coming out of training camp (most likely candidates: 21 year old forward Ryan Spooner, and 23 year old goalie Niklas Svedberg), but the Bruins can now be considered a veteran team.

There are a few players entering contract years, in Iginla, Shawn Thornton, newly re-signed Jordan Caron, Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski, and most notably Dennis Seidenberg. The rest of the team is locked up through at least the 2014-2015 season.

The once deep and promising group of youthful Bruins prospects has begun to grow thin. Which is why last week's firing of the team's Director of Amateur Scouting Wayne Smith was not a huge surprise. If you exclude Seguin & Dougie Hamilton, every draft pick made by the Bruins since 2007 has a combined NHL record of: 144 games played, 14 goals, 23 assists, and 37 points (stick-tap to @MikeFromATown for that stat).

So can a group of contractually secure, recent Stanley Cup champions be reinvigorated by the injection of a borderline elite veteran still searching for his first Cup, or a two-way leader looking to contribute to the team in a big way? That's what Chiarelli is banking on.

The good news for Boston is that despite the departure of Andrew Ference, there is no lack of leadership in the locker room. Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Shawn Thornton, Chris Kelly lead the way in that department, and will soon be joined by former Calgary captain Iginla and former Dallas alternate-captain Erikkson.

The 2011-2012 Boston Bruins reminded the world how hard it can be to start out strong after a long post-season run. The fact that the 2012-2013 NHL season was shortened by a lockout could work in Boston's favor this time around.

Regular season and playoffs combined, Boston played 70 games between January and June. That's twelve less than a typical NHL regular season. With a few months of rest, and a little luck, the 2013-2014 Boston Bruins could avoid becoming another statistic.