Boston, MA -- According to their coach, the Boston Bruins are already playing as if there is no tomorrow.
"I think everybody is," said B's Coach Claude Julien. "That’s what I was saying before the game. How could you not be in playoff mode?
"Everyone is fighting for a spot."
Julien knows how difficult the Bruins task will remain until the last horn sounds on the 2007-08 season.
"You have to have that kind of mentality, that kind of focus, and it’s not just the Boston Bruins, it’s everybody. Every team that’s in the race right now is thinking that way. There haven’t been too many teams that have tucked it in yet," he said.
Certainly not the Atlanta Thrashers, who gave Boston all they could handle in Saturday's matinee -- and wanted the win just as bad.
"We’re playing more desperate hockey," said Atlanta's head coach and GM, Don Waddell. "But all year when we’ve been more desperate or playing with a sense of urgency, we’ve been a better team…When we have our backs to the walls we’re usually a better team.
"If we keep playing like that, we’re going to win our share of games but we’ve just got to continue each and every day."
Waddell complemented the Bruins.
"It all starts in goal," said Atlanta's coach. "Tim [Thomas] is playing as good of hockey as he’s played.
"They have a good bunch of forwards and their defense does a good job."
Veteran Atlanta forward Mark Recchi agreed with his coach about their teams ability to compete.
"We’re taking some steps in the right direction and playing better together as a team and we have to continue to do that and focus on supporting each other and doing the right things," said Recchi.
"The other stuff will take care of itself - eventually we’ll start getting those wins."
But Recchi also admitted an admiration for how the B's play.
"They play tremendous as a team," he said. "Anytime you play great as a team and have everybody chipping in, you do well.
"They obviously have a great coaching staff over there and they play a great team game, their defense is extremely sound, they play the best out of everybody, and to me their number one in great goaltending and playing great as a team.
"When you have that, you’re going to win games," Julien said.
For their part, the Bruins know that they must maintain their attitude -- especially when they find themselves down in a game.
"We’ve gotten to a stage where we feel good about our game," said Julien of the clubs ability to maintain their composure. "It’s just one of those things, where when you feel good about your game, not good, but confident, you can come back.
"That was a 2-1 lift for them and definitely a big lift for their hockey club, but it was important for us to stick with our game. We knew we were playing well enough to be in that game, so it was just a matter of getting that next goal and getting back. It’s going to take a little bit more than that to deflate our hockey club at this stage and that’s a good sign."
A really good sign -- especially if you are a Bruins fan.