The Bruins' main rivals are, of course, the Montreal Canadiens. And there's a good chance the B's will get some hate on later in this week when they play a beefed-up divisional foe in the Buffalo Sabres for the first time.

But while they may not be considered bitter rivals, the Carolina Hurricanes, who missed the playoffs last year despite a lot of help given to them by the Bruins, really had the B's number last year. The Hurricanes, who added Eric Staal's little brother Jordan to the forward mix in the offseason, swept the Bruins in last year's four-game series, even winning a couple of times early on when Carolina was off to a terrible start.

While the Hurricanes are good up front now with the two Staals, Jeff Skinner and the newly acquired Alexander Semin and Jussi Jokinen, the back end, with the likes of Joni Pitkanen (15 points in 22 career games against the Bruins) and Justin Faulk, also presents some trouble for the B's heading into tonight's game in Raleigh, N.C.

"There are certain teams that give some teams trouble, and we're one of the teams that give other teams trouble as well," coach Claude Julien, whose team plays its first back-to-back games of the season tonight and tomorrow night, said yesterday at Ristuccia Arena. "But they play a certain style that gives us a lot of trouble. They're a four-man attack team, even this year. They always have a (defenseman) up in the rush.

"We haven't played our best against them, but at the same time they've played some good games against us, too. This is probably going to be one of those mental challenges, more than anything. We have to get over that hump and get that win as quick as we can to get that monkey off our back, if you will. But it's certainly something that we're well aware of and we're going to go in there (tonight) hopefully well prepared."

Patrice Bergeron concurred that Carolina's extra man supporting the attack was an issue last season.