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May 24, 2016

Mike Sullivan

Tampa, Florida: Game Six

Q. Mike, given the implications in this situation, are there any motivation tactics? Or does there need to be anything said in the locker room before tonight's game?
COACH SULLIVAN: Well, we'll certainly say things, but for me, I think it's a great opportunity for our team, and that's what I told them today, that's what I told them this morning, and that's what we'll continue to tell them. It's a great opportunity for us to continue to grow as a group, to put a stamp on these playoffs the way we have the second half of the season.
I know we've got a determined group. We've always responded the right way to any sort of adversities that we faced this season, and I know our guys will do the same tonight.

Q. Mike, who's your starting goaltender? And can you say why you made that decision?
COACH SULLIVAN: Matt Murray is our starting goaltender, and the reason, just like we make all our lineup decisions, we try to put players on the ice that we think give us the best chance to win.

Q. Coach, I know (indiscernible) aren't always indicative of your lineup, but if Conor Sheary does get in, what do you want from him after having a game off (indiscernible)?
COACH SULLIVAN: Conor brings a lot of energy, his quickness, his relentless pursuit on the puck. He's got a good stick, he's got play making ability. That's when he's at his best. That's our expectation of him when he plays for us. He's brought that to us all season long, and that's, for me, just his quickness, his quick stick, his ability to anticipate plays, knock pucks down, create opportunities off of turnovers. That's the type of player that he is. That's what he brings to the line that he's on, and that's what our expectation is when he's in the lineup.

Q. When you went with the decision to start Marc in Game 5, did you say anything to Matt to possibly prepare him for this possibility in Game 6?
COACH SULLIVAN: Yeah, Matt and I had a conversation, we always do, just like Marc and I have conversations. What is said in those conversations are between us. But certainly, we communicate with our players on a regular basis on the decisions that we make and preparing them to move forward.

Q. Mike, traditionally, coaches have preferred to have one goalie in a playoff series going back, but in this playoffs, we've seen a lot of coaches making decisions just like you did, and they're not always injury related. Do you sense sort of a shift? And is it because the backup goalies are so much more improved? There just seems to be a greater willingness to use the backup goalie than in the past.
COACH SULLIVAN: I think every situation is different, and so coaches are trying to make the best decisions that they can for their teams. But I think it's -- it would be unfair, I think, to offer a blanket statement on why coaches make those types of decisions. I think each respective situation is different from the other.
You know, I know in our case, as I said all along here, this has been a difficult circumstance, that we were dealt a tough injury to Marc late in the season, kept him out for an extended period of time. It's just a tough situation. But it is what it is. That's part of our business, and we've got to make the best decisions given the situation that we're dealt, and that's what we've tried to do.

Q. Mike, Evgeni and Patric each said something to the effect that you're going back to Pittsburgh for Game 7. As a coach, do you enjoy when a player puts something like that out there publicly, and is there an effect on the team when they put something like that out?
COACH SULLIVAN: I think it's terrific that they show faith in themselves and their teammates. I think sometimes you guys put words into their mouth and twist it into something that it's not. But I absolutely love the fact that they believe in their teammates, they believe in themselves, and they believe that each and every night, when we get on the ice, that we're going to win. That's an important element in sports. That's an important part of being a great player, and our guys possess that.
So I love that about our team. I love that about our players. I think this group believes in themselves. They believe in one another, and it's that belief that has allowed them to have the success that they've had to this point, and it's that belief that will continue to allow them to have success moving forward.

Q. What is it about Matt or Matt's game that makes you think he is the guy to give you the best chance to win tonight?
COACH SULLIVAN: Matt has played extremely well for us throughout the course of the playoffs. He's won a lot of big games for us. He's made timely saves for us. He has a demeanor back there, a calming effect on the group in front of him. I think his performance speaks for itself. He's been thrown into a tough situation, and he's handled it extremely well.
So at this particular point in the season, it's -- we don't have the luxury of letting -- allowing players to play through things. We have to win a game. We have to win a hockey game. And that's how we looked at it.

Q. Mike, Crosby and Malkin's minutes have been down a little bit in some games, compared to what we're used to seeing them, under 20 minutes in some games. Given the occasion tonight, could you see yourself maybe pushing them into the 20s?
COACH SULLIVAN: Possibly. It depends on the circumstance. Some nights they play over 20. Some nights they play under 20. We believe, as a coaching staff, that one of the reasons we've had success is because of a four-line rotation that allows us to play with the energy and the pace and the relentless effort that we need to have in order to play the game the way we want to play it, and we believe that the four-line rotation has really helped us accomplish that.
So I think Sid and Geno have really bought into it and have had a real selfless approach when it comes to that. But certainly, every game is a little bit different, and it depends on the circumstance. Obviously, when we chase games, they tend to play more when we shorten the bench. But when we don't and we can manage the game the right way, and we believe when we're at our best, we keep everybody involved and everybody has a role as far as helping our team win. And we believe that that formula has really allowed us to get to where we are today.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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