BOSTON -- In the aftermath of the most lopsided loss in the Stanley Cup Final in 15 years, Vancouver Canucks defenseman Sami Salo was asked about the challenge of overcoming such a dismantling at the hands of the Boston Bruins.
Salo let out a slight grin before saying, "I don't know if there's a challenge. We're up 2-1."
Fellow defenseman Kevin Bieksa drew a parallel to European soccer when trying to find the positive of Wednesday night's 8-1 loss in Game 3.
"It's 2-1 for us in the series," Bieksa said. "Luckily, it's not aggregate score. It's not Champions League. It's the Stanley Cup Final."
After getting a night to sleep on it, the mood didn't change much Tuesday afternoon when the team gathered at Boston University for an optional practice. When Salo was asked if he had watched any video from the game yet, he said no but recapped his 15 hours between the game and Tuesday's practice as if the loss never happened.
"I watched a little Jay Leno last night," Salo said. "I woke up this morning and had a great breakfast with a couple of my friends. I came to the rink here and I'm just preparing myself for the next game."
The No. 1 topic of discussion Thursday was defenseman Aaron Rome's four-game suspension for his hit on Boston's Nathan Horton. But right below the surface was the air of defiance from Canucks players that a seven-goal loss was nothing to keep them up at night and that their confidence remains intact.
"Our focus from Day One has been, whether we win or lose, our focus moves to the next game," Manny Malhotra said. "Nothing changes today. Whether it's a 1-0 loss or an 8-1 loss, a loss is a loss in the playoffs. Our focus is now toward winning Game 4."
Fortunately -- or perhaps unfortunately -- finding a way to bounce back from a blowout is nothing new for the Canucks in these playoffs.
In the conference quarterfinals against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Canucks entered Game 4 with a 3-0 series lead. Much like their two wins against the Bruins, the Canucks squeezed out the three wins against the Blackhawks by the slimmest of margins before getting crushed 7-2 in Game 4 in Chicago.
The Canucks' philosophy of putting games behind them immediately didn't serve them well in the first round. They were smoked once again in Game 5 and lost in overtime in Game 6 before recovering to win the series in overtime of Game 7.
It took two games for the Canucks to get back on track against the Blackhawks, a luxury they could afford with a 3-0 lead in the series. But this loss to the Bruins has trimmed the Canucks' lead to 2-1. A repeat of what happened in the first round would have far graver consequences in the much tighter Stanley Cup Final.
Daniel Sedin, however, believes there's no correlation between the two blowouts.
"That was a long time ago. I can't remember," Sedin said. "I think this time around, you can't dwell on these kind of games. We had some good meetings today. When we leave this rink, we're going to forget about it and be better tomorrow."
"I think we've done a great job throughout the entire playoffs," Malhotra said. "We've never been too high, we've never been too low on ourselves. Today doesn't change. The mood in the room is good. It's where it needs to be. I like where our focus level is at."
The mood is one thing. The execution on the ice is another.
After playing a solid first period that saw the Canucks kill off a five-minute major because of Rome's hit on Horton, things started to fall apart early in the second period. The first thing to fall apart was the stick of defenseman Alexander Edler, who was helpless as Andrew Ference scored 11 seconds into the second period to get the ball rolling.
From there, defensive breakdowns happened in front of goaltender Roberto Luongo, the power play was unable to generate quality chances despite eight opportunities with the man-advantage, and only Jannik Hansen was able to solve Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas (40 saves) -- and that came when the game was out of hand.
Shaking off the loss is one thing, but even late-night television fan Salo knows the Canucks will need to learn from those mistakes if they want to win Game 4.
"We'll look at some things we'll have to address," Salo said. "Our special teams have to step up a little more. Our battle level has to step up, too. Our focus now is to analyze a little bit of the last game and take the good things out and try to change the bad things."
Injuries to defensemen and suspensions are something the Canucks have dealt with all season.
Malhotra has had a good perspective on the Canucks' character this season as an important member of the team on the ice and a key contributor off the ice after suffering an eye injury late in the season that kept him out until Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Malhotra is expecting the Canucks to respond in a big way, not only to the loss to the Bruins, but to the loss of Rome from an already depleted defense corps that's without Dan Hamhuis, who is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury, but has not played since Game 1.
"I've seen it from the outside, been in the room," Malhotra said. "I know the ability we have to respond to certain situations. Losing Romer compounded with losing last night's game, we're moving forward focused on making sure we do the right things to give ourselves the best possible chance to win tomorrow."
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