Bruins now face deficit, character test

BOSTON -- For a while now the Boston Bruins have believed they have what it takes to win the Stanley Cup.

Yet the Bruins find themselves down 2-0 to the Montreal Canadiens in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, and with the series switching to Montreal for Games 3 and 4, now is the time we'll find out exactly what this team is made of, from ownership all the way down the ladder.

"When you're down in a series like that and you've got to climb back up, it definitely is a challenge of character, will, desire, commitment and everything else that goes with it," Bruins coach Claude Julien said Sunday. "We've got to roll up our sleeves here and go back to work."

No doubt the Bell Centre will be a hostile environment for the Bruins, who did not win a game there this season.

"I'm sure it's going to be crazy, just like it was here," Bruins forward David Krejci said. "We've played there many times, so we know what to expect. All we can do is focus on our game and do it on the ice. I wouldn't make it such a big deal. Yeah, we've lost two games, but there's still lots of hockey left and I believe we'll win the next game. It's a good feeling in the room and we're [looking] for a momentum change really quickly."

The Bruins did not practice Sunday before traveling to Montreal. There were only a few players on hand in the locker room to discuss the state of the team.

"We're definitely upset," forward Milan Lucic said. "We're not happy with the results of the last two games. The main thing is we're fighting the puck and it's almost like we're shooting ourselves in the foot. That's the most upsetting part.

"We need to set that aside and we need to put our rally caps on and figure something out quick because we're definitely running out of time."

The Bruins have been in this type of situation in the past and they'll draw on that experience as they try to crawl back into this series. During Julien's tenure in Boston, the Bruins have battled back from a two-game hole in a pair of playoff series, only to lose in Game 7 both times.

In 2008, the Bruins were down 3-1 to the Habs, but lost the series in seven. In 2009, Boston trailed Carolina 3-1 only to lose in Game 7.

"Let's be honest here, our team has not played at all close to the way we know we can," Julien said. "You can outshoot them, you can do a lot of things, but the mistakes that we have made in this series so far are very uncharacteristic of our hockey team, and we need to be better than that."

Montreal has clearly been the better team, and the Canadiens played two perfect road games in Boston. Offensively, the Habs stuck to their game plan and capitalized on Boston's mistakes. The Bruins haven't had any luck breaking through to goaltender Carey Price, scoring only one goal in the first two games.

"We had to work pretty hard [Saturday] just to get that one goal, and I don't think they had to work as hard to get theirs," Julien said. "And that's basically the difference right now in the games, is the execution of one team, compared to the execution of the other one. I'm going to stand here and tell you that our execution isn't good enough and it needs to be better. That's what we have to do from here on in."

The Bruins need to score the first goal in order to control the game and the tempo. The Bruins need to continue to pepper Price. The Bruins need a big character win in Game 3.

"It's all about one game," Krejci said. "It looks like people are writing us off, but it's only a 2-0 [deficit] and we'll win the next game and the whole series will change."

It was a quiet Sunday morning at TD Garden as the Bruins packed their bags and headed north. There would seem to be too much talent and ability on this team for the Bruins to lose this series. But now it's become a test of their character.

It starts in Game 3 on Monday night

"No one is going to do it but us," Lucic said. "For myself and the rest of the guys on the team, we're the ones that need to go out there and do it, rise up to the occasion. It's not just one guy. We're going to have to unite as a team here and do it together."

Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.