"Well, it's the primer for the playoffs and we want to continue to play playoff-type hockey," said rookie defenseman Adam McQuaid
. "That way, once the playoff start we are ready to go.
"There are still a lot of teams that are looking to get into the playoffs, and every night is going to be a hard fought battle.
"Nothing really changes from our perspective. We'd still like to even move up, so we just come out with the same effort and make sure we are ready to go," he said.
Across the room, forward Chris Kelly
agreed with the young blueliner.
"I think this is another great opportunity for us to play against a solid hockey team that does a lot of things right," said Kelly. "They have a good power play and they've been playing well lately so this is another opportunity to come out here and prove that we are a good hockey team.
"I don't think there really needs to be much said," added Kelly when asked what had been addressed in the locker room.
"We're all professional in here. We all know what's at stake and we all want to get better.
"So, it's another game to go, to move forward and prove that we are ready for the postseason even though we did clinch a spot last game," he said.
Fellow center Gregory Campbell
said, ""It's a cliche, but you really can't turn it on and off.
"I think the message is one that at this time of year it's not worthwhile to let your game slip," he said. "I mean, this is when you have to be playing your best.
"You look around and everyone is getting points right now.
"We have clinched, but there's still some sorting out to do in regards to positioning and who we're going to play, so it's definitely not a time to get comfortable," Campbell said.
B's Head Coach Claude Julien sees the game against the Blackhawks as a touchstone, and said he didn't think he would be making any changes in his lineup.
"We know what this team we’re playing tonight represents and it’s an important game for us," said Julien of the Blackhawks -- the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
"First of all, [they're] a good hockey club," he said. "They've got good team speed. Some of their top players are obviously elite players in this league. When you talk about Jonathan Toews, [Marian] Hossa, [Patrick] Kane, those kinds of guys are guys that can do a lot of damage.
"And obviously their backend has some guys that can move the puck really well.
"So and again, a power play that’s second in the league and a team that’s desperate right now to get into the playoffs," said Julien.
Julien did acknowledge that he would have to get some of his scratched players and defenseman Shane Hnidy into the lineup in order for them to be ready for the postseason, but insisted that did not change the B's approach.
"We’ve got to remember the guys were going to put in are good players. It’s not like you’re putting in a bad player. It’s that you’ve got a 20-man roster for the game, but you’ve got 22-23 guys here," he said. "We’re going to put some guys in, pull some guys out, but certainly not to say, well this is a game that we’re going to take it easy, we’re going to pull so-and-so out.
"We’ve got to stay on top of our game, and that’s what I’ve been talking about, sliding guys in that can go in there and stay sharp so that if, come playoff time, we need somebody, they haven’t been sitting around for a month."
"Again, it’s just being cautious about how you do it," explained Julien. "Because number one, you don’t want complacency, [or] guys getting comfortable but at the same time you’re going to give guys some rest.
"So that’s all coming up as we move forward here in the last few games and we’re certainly going to utilize that to our benefit since we’ve clinched a playoff spot."