It’s a problem every team in the NHL would love to have, but one the Bruins will do anything to avoid.

It’s called the “Stanley Cup Hangover,” and it’s claimed the postseason lives of every defending champion since the Red Wings repeated in 1997-98.

Since 1927, 54 of 84 Cup winners have had a worse regular season the following year.

And perhaps no champion is more vulnerable to a letdown than the Bruins, who played three Game 7s on the path to the Cup last spring (and nearly summer) after a regular season that began overseas.

 

And because the Cup wasn’t clinched until mid-June, there was precious little time for the Bruins to recover physically and mentally — even if there was no need emotionally after winning Boston’s first title since 1972.

“I think [once] you get a taste of winning, it’s a pretty good taste,” Bruins president Cam Neely said yesterday before the team was awarded its championship rings. “So we got a great group of guys — great character, still [a] fairly young team for the most part — that I think aren’t tired of winning yet.”

Tomorrow night, the 2010-11 championship banner will be raised at the Garden ... and then the defense of the Cup begins against the Flyers. Don’t forget the defense against internal opponents, like fatigue and complacency.

The former is most easily addressed, if the B’s can provide some more rest for Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Tim Thomas. He played every minute of all 25 postseason games and will be 38 when the 2012 postseason begins.

“It shows itself in ... physical or mental fatigue,” general manager Peter Chiarelli said. “It’s unavoidable, is what I’m told. I hate harping on it because sometimes I think it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We’re just going to have to be on top of it.”

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