Members of the Boston Bruins' 1972 Stanley Cup championship team and the current Bruins team carry the 2011 Stanley Cup banner across the ice of the Boston Garden prior to the Bruins game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday. (AP)

Members of the Boston Bruins' 1972 Stanley Cup team and current Bruins players carry the 2011 Stanley Cup banner prior to Thursday's season opener against the Flyers. (AP)

Stanley Cup celebrations may still be taking place in Boston this week, but the 2011-12 NHL season is already upon us. Helene Elliot of the Los Angeles Times joins Bill Littlefield on Only A Game to discuss whether Boston can repeat this year.

“The Bruins really do have a good chance,” Helene says, despite the history of a “Stanley Cup hangover.”

The Vancouver Canucks also will be serious contenders this season, she believes, even after losing Game 7 of last year’s Championship series on home ice and the recent injury to key defenseman Christian Ehrhoff.

The Chicago Blackhawks, winners of the Stanley Cup in 2010, made some good moves in the offseason, bringing in defensemen Steve Montador, Sean O’Donnell, and Sami Lepisto. With this added toughness, says Helene, “at least hopefully they’ll go to the conference finals before they choke again.”

And finally, the Pittsburgh Penguins start the season without captain Sydney Crosby, who remains sidelined indefinitely for post-concussion symptoms.

“With concussions it’s just so unpredictable,” Helene says. “You really can’t put a timetable on it.”

But with a 4-3 win on Thursday over Vancouver, it looks like the Penguins might do just fine for the time being without their former MVP.