BOSTON – Patrice Bergeron knows opponents will get fired up to beat the Stanley Cup champs. That’s what he did when he faced the team that won before his Boston Bruins.

Targeting the NHL’s best is just a natural response.

“When I was playing Chicago, I was ready for that game,” Bergeron said at the opening of training camp Friday. “I wanted to beat them because they were the defending champs, and I know all the other 29 teams are going to think the same way. They’re going to try to beat us, so we need to make sure we’re ready for that and make sure we’re ready for a big year.”

The Bruins beat the Blackhawks 3-0 in their only meeting last season, with Bergeron assisting on the first goal.

But one year after winning their first Cup in 49 years, the Blackhawks didn’t clinch a playoff spot until the final day of the regular season, then were eliminated in the first round.

The Bruins won their first title in 40 years and know a letdown is possible. They’re well aware of the Stanley Cup hangover that could pose a problem.

“I think you kind of tackle those challenges as they come, and you don’t know if they’re going to come at all or if they’re going to happen two weeks in or not,” defenseman Andrew Ference said. “It’s one of those things that you have on the radar and you talk openly about. We have a very open team.

“The first hurdle is just having a group of people that you can be honest with, brutally sometimes, and you can kind of nip things like that in the bud.”

Instead of resting on their achievement, the desire to build on it might be an even more powerful force.

“After you win the Stanley Cup, you want it that much more,” said forward Brad Marchand, who agreed to a two-year, $5 million contract Wednesday. “Having that feeling is one very few people get to understand and achieve, and now that we’ve kind of reached that we want it over and over again.”

The Bruins lost three players who were regulars in the playoffs — forwards Mark Recchi to retirement and Michael Ryder to free agency, and defenseman Tomas Kaberle, whom they chose not to re-sign. They added forward Benoit Pouliot from the Montreal Canadiens and defenseman Joe Corvo from the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Blackhawks had much greater turnover after winning.

The Bruins “did so well last year and they didn’t really change a lot of the lineup,” Pouliot said. “If I can fit in with the other guys that joined the team, it’s going to be perfect. But for me, it’s jumping in there, finding a spot, not messing anything up and play my game.”

Overconfidence might not be a problem because of how close the Bruins came to being eliminated in the first round. They lost the first two games against the Canadiens, then squeaked out a 4-3 win in Game 7 on Nathan Horton’s overtime goal.

After sweeping Philadelphia, the Bruins had another seven-game series with Tampa Bay. They won the finale 1-0 on Horton’s goal with 7:33 remaining in the third period.

“I think everybody’s smart enough to look at the way the playoffs were won — a bounce here, a bounce there, a goal, the little differences between us talking about a first-round exit or a Stanley Cup (championship),” Ference said. “That’s just the way hockey is. It’s tight like that every year.”