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May 23, 2016

Mike Sullivan

Tampa, Florida: Practice Day

Q. Would you like to spare the suspense for us.
COACH SULLIVAN: I'll have a decision in the morning.

Q. Mike, you had a chance overnight to think about the way Marc-Andre Fleury played in Game 5. What are your thoughts on his performance?
COACH SULLIVAN: I thought Marc made some big saves for us, especially early in the game. I thought he really settled into the game in the first period and made some real big saves.
He might have got away from it a little bit as the game went on. And to Marc's defense, it's a tough situation when you haven't played in a long time and you get thrown into a high stakes environment like that.
But I thought early on in the game, I thought he looked really strong. He was tracking the puck well.

Q. Mike, all season, all this playoff run, young players have stepped up and made an impact. When you're facing an elimination game, do you rely more on the veterans, it's up to them to really have an impact in this game for teams to advance?
COACH SULLIVAN: I think we've got to rely on everybody. For this team to be where it's at and still playing, it's because we've become a team in the true sense of the word. And at each different night, we've had guys, different people step up and make big plays at key times, and I think that's what you need to win in the playoffs. That's what you need in the conference finals. So certainly, I don't -- I think all of us have to share the responsibility of trying to play the right way.
And I believe in this group. We've got a resilient group here that's shown a lot of resolve through a ton of adversity throughout the course of this season. I don't know that there's a team in the league that's faced more adversity than this team from the start of training camp until where we are today.
So these guys have shown their resilience time and time again, and probably now it will be tested more than ever. But I certainly believe in this group we have. I think we've got a great group that's going to respond the right way.

Q. (Inaudible) raising the challenge for you guys here in this elimination game?
COACH SULLIVAN: Sure, it is. I think it's a great opportunity. It all depends on how you look at it. For me, it's a great opportunity for our team to put a stamp on these playoffs and come out and play the type of game that we've played for a long time, a spirited game, playing the game the right way where we're hard to play against and get everybody involved. If we do that, I think we'll come out on the right side of it.

Q. Mike, you guys have outshot them in each game. I think the results have been close. Do you feel like you just need to keep doing what you've been doing and success will come, or does there need to be some changes?
COACH SULLIVAN: I think we have to continue what we're doing. We can make subtle adjustments, and we've done that game to game along the way, but I really like a lot of our game and the way we're playing. We're controlling territory. We're controlling the shot clock. We're controlling the scoring chances. We're -- a lot of our game has been pretty solid.
I think at times we can be a little bit smarter away from the puck and be harder to play against in maybe limiting the quality of the chance that we give up.
And you have to give Tampa credit. They're a very good team. They know how to score goals, and if you give them high quality chances, they're going to convert.
So our ability to limit the quality of the chance is going to be essential, I think, moving forward.

Q. Mike, hindsight being what it is, was the time off too much for Fleury to overcome?
COACH SULLIVAN: It's a tough question to answer. This is an imperfect situation. I've said this all along. It's hard for all of us. We wish the circumstances were different, but they're not. That's the nature of the business that we're in. All we can do is make the best decisions that we think we can to help the team win, and players got to control what they can and put their best foot forward, and that's what we did.
I think Marc is a terrific goalie. We wouldn't be where we are today if it wasn't for his body of work this season and how well he's played to put this team in a position to be where it's at. So we're fortunate to have the guys that we have back there that we can lean on, that give this team a chance to win, and Marc has certainly been one of those guys for us.

Q. Mike, how would you assess Letang's efficiency over the past few games?
COACH SULLIVAN: I'm not sure what you mean by efficiency.

Q. You use the term efficient, with energy, decision making, things like that. How has he been over the past few games?
COACH SULLIVAN: I think Kris at times can simplify his game, and when he does, I think he's at his best. You know, if he's looking for the next best player or better play, sometimes he gets himself in trouble. But certainly, listen, he plays monster minutes for us. He plays in all the key situations. He's an important guy for us. He's an important guy in all the situations. We rely on him back there to help us get out of our end zone, to help us generate offense from the back end on the power play, killing penalties.
We put him in real important situations for us. He's been a big part of our success here, and I believe he's going to continue to be moving forward.

Q. Mike, do you sense that Kris is at all getting frustrated through the series of not getting those pucks to the net?
COACH SULLIVAN: No, I don't sense that at all. I think he's trying to play the game the right way. And the reality is, when you make it this far in the playoffs, the games are hard. The reason they're hard is because everybody that's left is really good. And so that's the nature of the game at this time of year. We don't have the luxury of getting discouraged. We've just got to continue to play, and if we do that, as I said earlier, I really believe in the scheme. I believe in this group. I know we're going to have the right attitude and the right approach going in.

Q. Mike, how difficult are these goaltending decisions for you maybe compared to other personnel decisions you have to make?
COACH SULLIVAN: It's a tough one. It's a tough one. It's just a tough circumstance. You know, we believe -- as I said, we believe in the guys we have. We think we have quality people. But as I said, it's an imperfect situation. So we're trying to -- all things considered, we're trying to make the best decisions that we can, that we think give the team the best chance to win, and that's what we do, and that's what we go with. We'll continue to do that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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