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May 18, 2016

Mike Sullivan

Tampa, Florida: Game Three

Q. Are you settled for the line combinations tonight, or are you satisfied with the way it was in last night's game?
COACH SULLIVAN: Well, we'd like to settle into some stability. We'll do that. We have a game plan to go into tonight. We'll see how it goes, and we'll make our decisions accordingly.

Q. (Inaudible). Just generally speaking, what changes do you have to make?
COACH SULLIVAN: I don't think it changes anything we do. Most -- when teams go that route, a lot of times they might have a particular defenseman and might have a specialty like a power play guy, or they're trying to free up an opportunity to use maybe some of their top guys in different line combinations. You know, just in a little bit of a heightened awareness of who's going over the boards and who's on the ice in certain situations, but it really doesn't change what we do.

Q. How much does that (inaudible)?
COACH SULLIVAN: It's not going to change. It's not going to change our decision making by any stretch. I've said all along, the line combinations that we've had and that we'll continue to use, we have a comfort level with our balance, that we have strengths on every line that can play both ends of the rink. We have a comfort level that our guys can play against anybody.
Will we try to get certain matchups? Yes, we will, but as I said, we have a comfort level that our guys can play.

Q. Who do you see as (inaudible)?
COACH SULLIVAN: Well, I think Kris is -- he's a guy that, I think, is easy to play with because he skates extremely well, he defends with his stick extremely well, and he has great puck skills. So I think sometimes he can be a one-man breakout. I think sometimes he offers great support to his partners because of his mobility and his awareness of where they are in the rink.
Kris is a very talented defenseman. He can play -- he's very versatile. He can play in a lot of situations. I think, regardless of who we put him with, he helps his partner become better.

Q. Have you considered putting Sid and Geno on the same line to start the game, or do you really like the idea of spreading those two guys out on the lines?
COACH SULLIVAN: There really hasn't been much we haven't considered. We go through these discussions all the time. I think, by nature, the two of them like to play center. I think that's where they're at their best. But having said that, they can be dangerous when they're together. So we try to put them in positions where they can be successful and play to their strengths, and then we make decisions situationally within games and whether or not we think it makes sense to put them together.

Q. Fehr (inaudible) was on the line when the first goal came through. How did you evaluate that game (inaudible) beyond the goal and what's different there with Eric on the line?
COACH SULLIVAN: I thought the line was really good. I thought Eric Fehr might have had his best game in the postseason the last game. He brought a lot of energy. He was forcing turnovers. He was hard to play against. He was on the puck. He was strong on the boards. So I thought he had one of his strongest games in the postseason the last game, and, obviously, we really liked the line. Not only did they score for us but they're hard to play against. I think they wear teams down. They're very good in their end zone.
When Cully and Fehrsy play in the same line together, they're two that can take face-offs. There's a lot to like about that line. I think the difference of whether we use Rusty or we use Fehrsy, Rusty brings maybe a speed element that Fehrsy doesn't bring quite as much, but that's probably the major difference.

Q. Coach, can you talk a little bit about the refurbishing of (inaudible) especially on a read call. Your third and fourth line, those players six months ago weren't the same (inaudible).
COACH SULLIVAN: I think he's done a terrific job as far as retooling the roster and giving the coaching staff the means to play the way we want to play. I think, when you look at the guys that Jim's acquired over the last nine or ten months, they're all guys that, I think, have allowed us to establish the identity that we have to this day.
They can skate. They're puck movers. They're guys that like to play with the puck. They allow us to play that speed game that, I think, really suits the core players that are here. I think Jim's done a real good job in identifying that and then trying to surround those guys with some role players that allow those guys to play that style of play. So I think that's a big reason why we're where we are today.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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