BOSTON (AP) — The Bruins tried every tactic possible to avoid the dreaded "Stanley Cup Hangover."
They didn't work.
Different lineups, different travel schedules, extra rest, you name it. But Boston still slumped through certain times of the regular season, and though it won the Northeast Division and snagged the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, there the Bruins were on Friday, packing up at the TD Garden after a first-round loss to Washington some 10 months after hoisting the Stanley Cup.
"I think the best way to say it is it almost felt like one long season. It almost felt like a baseball season," Bruins forward Milan Lucic said. "Obviously, we've almost played 200 games here in the last two years. Obviously that's a good thing, you want to be playing as much as you can, as long as you can.
"But, this is an opportunity for us right now to get some rest."
Lucic and several other Bruins seemed to be most affected by the arduous schedule. While Washington's defensive gameplan played a large part in players like Lucic, and forwards David Krejci and Tyler Seguin hardly being a factor offensively, there was a lack of consistency with the Bruins throughout the regular season.
"I mentioned to (general manager) Peter (Chiarelli) the other day, that physically I think we're OK. There didn't seem to be any issues physically," coach Claude Julien said. "I think mentally, some players handled it better than others over the course of the season, and the short summer and everything else, and that's what happens with teams.
"I don't think it makes a player less valuable or less of a better player than others and everyone handles it differently."
Boston went 49-29-4 this season and was led by Seguin's 67 points.
"We had some guys that came back and were the same player they were the year before. We had some players that really struggled," Julien said. "Basically, we played two seasons in less than two years. It's not an easy task, and at the same time, there's so much going on, there's reasons for guys being better and a little less than others."
Many of Boston's key players remain under contract. Several, including Lucic, Seguin, forward Brad Marchand and goaltender Tim Thomas, will enter the last year of their deals in 2012-13. And goaltender Tuukka Rask, who has combined with Thomas to form one of the best duos in the league, will be a restricted free agent this summer.