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Thursday, June 2, 2011
Updated: June 3, 9:05 AM ET
Bruins know they can bounce back

By Joe McDonald
ESPNBoston.com

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- It didn't take long for Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas to forget about the team's 1-0 loss to the Vancouver Canucks in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals. Following the defeat, Thomas stood at his stall in the visitors' locker room Wednesday night at Rogers Arena in a jovial mood. Kind of strange for someone who just played an incredible game (33 saves) but still lost -- when the Canucks scored the lone goal with 18.5 seconds remaining in the third period.

Thomas wasn't the only Bruins player who seemed to quickly dismiss the loss.

That mentality has helped Boston all season, and despite what is at stake, the Bruins and coach Claude Julien are not about to change.

"We have good character, which I think we've showed throughout the season and during these playoffs," Thomas said. "We really want to win and to do that, if you have setbacks, you have to bounce back and that's what we've been doing."

Tim Thomas
"We really want to win and to do that, if you have setbacks, you have to bounce back and that's what we've been doing," said Tim Thomas.

It sounds cliché, but the Bruins really do embrace that one-shift-at-a-time, one-game-at-a-time mentality. In fact, they were in this same situation during the Stanley Cup playoffs and never panicked. The Bruins were down 2-0 against the Canadiens in the quarterfinals and also lost the first game against the Lightning in the conference finals. They obviously won both of those series.

"That's the way we've approached it all year," Julien said. "Throughout the season, you get your ups and downs. When we had our downs, we know a lot of people were disappointed and we were criticized. Inside that dressing room, we knew it was a long year and we could right the ship with time. We did that and got into the playoffs.

"Having done that all year, you don't change your approach. You lose a game and we know how important that loss becomes, but right now what's more important is not [Wednesday's] loss, but how we're going to react to it on Saturday."

As much as Julien and his players live in the moment, if history has anything to do with this series, it favors the Canucks. Teams winning Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals have gone on to hoist the coveted chalice in 55 of 71 seasons (77 percent) since the league introduced the best-of-seven format in 1939.

Vancouver has won every Game 1 in this postseason, but it's tough for the Canucks to pinpoint exactly why.

"Obviously we prepared ourselves very well before each series," said Canucks defenseman Sami Salo. "The focus has been trying to put our best game on the ice from the first game and get everybody settled in. It hasn't been anything else, really."

The Bruins had their chances to steal Game 1, especially with Thomas' outstanding play, but Boston once again finds itself in familiar territory, trailing in the series. The team hopes to return to Boston with the series even at one game apiece.

"That would be the best-case scenario," Thomas said. "That's what we'll be shooting for. We want to win the Stanley Cup. We're down 1-0 in a seven-game series. It's important for us to get this next win. The most successful trip would have been if we were up 2-0 leaving Vancouver. That's not a possibility now, so we just have to deal with the reality of that and get ready to find some way to win on Saturday."

Even though the Bruins and Canucks match up evenly in this series, Vancouver had a better regular season than Boston. The Canucks finished with a league-leading 117 points and therefore the Bruins have been deemed the underdog in the Cup finals.

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli believes his team should embrace that status.

"I think you should," Chiarelli said. "Whether they do it consciously or subconsciously, I don't know. It has been discussed and in any series when there's an underdog, it's discussed and there's bulletin-board stuff. It's the same in any sport.

"I think the guys would like a little respect," added Chiarelli. "They certainly show their feelings by how they play."

The Bruins played a very good road game in the opening game of this series. At times they showed why they're in the Cup finals, and at other times they got away from what has made them successful.

"I attribute it to nerves a little bit and we have to be sharper," Chiarelli said.

As they prepare for Game 2, the Bruins hope to show the same resilience against the Canucks that they tapped against the Canadiens and Lightning.

"Obviously you never want to be down in a series, but we've been through it and I know we can bounce back," said Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron. "We came out on the winning side of both those series, so we have to stay positive and confident that we can do it. At the same time, we've got to find a way."

Veteran Mark Recchi, who has been one of the Bruins' leaders, has said from the beginning of the 2010-2011 season that this roster has what it takes to win it all. Boston is four wins from hoisting the Cup, but the Canucks need only three.

"We know we can be better and we know we're facing a good hockey team," Recchi said. "We've been good at responding in these situations and I wouldn't expect anything less from our group. I'm sure you'll see a great game on Saturday."

Joe McDonald covers the Bruins and the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.