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May 20, 2016

Mike Sullivan

Tampa, Florida: Game Four

Q. Mike, when you fill out the lineup card tonight, will Patric Hornqvist be available?

Q. Coach, you know you're probably going to get a pretty good pushback from this team. How do you guard against what they're going to do?
COACH SULLIVAN: Well, we just have to be ready to play from the drop of the puck. We know we're going to get their best game. We have to make sure we bring our very best.
I think, when you're still playing at this time of year, every team that's left is a really good team. And in order to have the success that you're looking for, you have to have your very best, and that's what we expect from them tonight, and we're going to have to have the same in our room.

Q. Mike, you've praised the rookies all year for being mature, wise beyond their years, things like that. Are there times where it's okay or even encouraged for them to be sentimental, youthful, kind of caught up in the moment?
COACH SULLIVAN: I don't know if sentimental is the word. For me, it's about embracing the moment. These guys have done this all year long. I think it's infectious. What they've done for our team has really helped us come together as a group. I think the chemistry that's evolved over the last few months between our young players and our veteran guys has really -- has been, from a coaching standpoint, has really been rewarding to watch because these guys sincerely like one another. They play hard for each other, and I think they've helped each other.
I think the veteran guys have really helped our younger players, and I think our younger players have really helped our veteran guys as far as the energy and the enthusiasm that they bring to the rink every day.
So for me right now, we have to make sure that we stay in the moment, stay focused, and continue to just embrace the moment and not -- we're not going to look behind us, and we're certainly not going to get ahead of ourselves. We've had success as a group because we have had such a short-term focus in just being concerned about that one game in front of us.

Q. From a coaching perspective, how valuable is Brian Dumoulin in the sense that (inaudible) your staff has put him in an expanded role as such a young kid in such an environment?
COACH SULLIVAN: Well, Brian's a really good player. I think he's an undervalued player, certainly not in our room. I think our guys appreciate what he brings to our team. I know our coaching staff really appreciates what he brings to our team. We can use him in a lot of different situations, but he's a very good player. He's got a good, solid, two-way game. He's a mobile guy. He's got a long reach. I think he plays with courage. He goes back to pucks. He takes hits to make plays, and he continues to do so.
So there's no question, with him as part of our group of six back there, it gives us some versatility in how we want to use our defensemen. But without question, he's played in a lot of key situations for us throughout the course of this playoffs.

Q. Given the nature of the position and the situation he's in, it would probably be easy for somebody like Matt Murray to almost overstimulate on the off days, maybe try to study too much or anything like that. Did you have to look at him on those days off, you and Mike Bales, and try to explain to him just rest mentally? It's very important in those moments.
COACH SULLIVAN: No, I actually try to leave him alone and let him go about his business and do his thing. I think he has a routine that he's settled into that is comfortable for him. I think Balesy does a great job, as far as making sure that he sends the right messages and has the right conversations with him to allow him to recover and be able to be ready for the next game. So I really trust Balesy in that situation. He does a great job with all of our goalies.

Q. Mike, what does it mean for you -- is it a comfort level or whatnot -- when you can go away from Chris Kunitz playing with Sidney Crosby and then go back to it in terms of the history they have together. What does that mean to you when you look at your line and whatnot?
COACH SULLIVAN: It just gives us options. It gives us versatility as a coaching staff. We know we can go back to certain things that have had success in the past. Players have certain comfort levels, just based on familiarity, and that's one example with Sid and Kuny. But they're good pros. Chris is a good pro. He plays in any situation we ask him to play, and no matter what line we ask him to play on, he makes that line better with what he brings to the table.

Q. Mike, you talked about the guys being focused, but they also seem pretty loose. I don't know if you saw what they did to Phil's locker today and stuff like that. Is it a good thing? Is it important? Do you like the fact they're having fun right now throughout this whole process?
COACH SULLIVAN: Sure, I do. I think that's an important aspect of where we're at right now. I think these guys enjoy one another. They like being around one another. That's part of being -- that's part of being part of a close knit team. These guys, they don't miss much. So when they have opportunities to have some fun with one another, I think that's a good thing. I think it brings our team even closer together, and that's an example of it.
But for me, that's just another indication that our guys are really embracing this moment and embracing this challenge.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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