home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


May 25, 2016

Mike Sullivan

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Practice Day

Q. Sidney Crosby has three winning goals in this series. Do you expect him to -- not to be that good, but to take all of the pressure in the world on his shoulders, to produce, to be good defensively, to be a leader?
COACH SULLIVAN: We just -- we expect him to be himself. And when he does that, he's a great player. He helps us win. And that's what he did last night. We don't expect any one of our players to carry the load for this team. This team has had success because it's been a team and everyone participates and contributes to helping us win.
That's the message to our players is let's just play the game the right way and be yourself, play to your strengths, and that's what we expect all of our players to do.

Q. When he scores a goal like that last night, you know, because it's a special goal, is there a buzz on the bench a little bit?
COACH SULLIVAN: Sure, it is. Number one, the timing of the goal is huge right at the end of the period. I think you saw his will and his determination in that goal. And when Sid's playing that way, I think it certainly gives our bench a big lift. Obviously, it was a game-changing goal for us.

Q. Coach, Horny set up that play. Conor Sheary set up Letang's play. Was that kind of encapsulating the group effort from these guys?
COACH SULLIVAN: It was. On Sid's goal, it was a great effort by Sid, obviously, but Horny strips on the back-check. It's a subtle play, but it's a huge play. That goal doesn't happen if Horny doesn't track it from behind and strip the puck and give Sid the opportunity to do what he does. It's a lot of those subtleties of the game that help our team win. And I think we saw that last night in a number of different circumstances on both sides of the puck.

Q. Do you have momentum now, Mike, or is this a clean slate tomorrow night for both teams?
COACH SULLIVAN: I don't know about momentum. For us, we accomplished what we set out to do. We wanted to win a game and bring it to a Game 7. That's what we did.

Q. Is there at all a different feeling around this team this morning as there was maybe when you guys were leaving to come here after a loss? I mean, granted, you lost that one, but you needed to win. You still have to win. Is there a different feeling at all around the team?
COACH SULLIVAN: I'm not sure if the feeling's different. I think this group believes in themselves. I think they believe in one another. And I think they play for each other, which is a powerful dynamic. I don't think you get this far in the playoffs if you don't have that as part of your group.
We have a confident group. We believe that we have what it takes to be successful. We're going to play hard. We're going to take the same approach tomorrow night. We're going to do everything we can to focus our mindset in the right spots in order to give our team the best chance to win.

Q. Coach, if Stamkos returns to the lineup, what adjustments do you need to make for that?
COACH SULLIVAN: Our focus really at this point in the series isn't on the Tampa Bay Lightning, it's on our team and how we have to play in order to be successful. Obviously, Stamkos is a very good player. They have a lot of good players. But our main focus is going to be on our team.

Q. Your goalie is now a grizzled 22 years old as of today. Can you talk about he plays so far beyond his years.
COACH SULLIVAN: He does. I've said this all along throughout the course of the playoffs. He has a maturity beyond his years. He has a calming influence. He has -- for a young player, he has an ability to stay in the moment, not allow any of the adversities or the challenges that the game presents to affect his mindset. If one goes in that he thinks he should have had, he just refocuses and he plays. It's a real important attribute to have, I think, as an athlete, but probably most importantly as a goaltender. And he has it at such a young age.

Q. You've been in the game a long time. Has it been a rarity for you to see this in a young goaltender like this? Like does he remind you of anybody in that respect?
COACH SULLIVAN: I don't know that I've seen a goaltender at his young age have that type of an attribute. Usually, that takes years to acquire, and that's part of the maturity level that players, they develop that attribute over time. And Matt seems to have it.

Q. Were you at all -- not surprised, but when you make the change for Game 5, obviously, it's disappointing to him. Then you come back to him in Game 6, and he does what he does, especially in the third period. What kind of statement does that make in terms of a guy who -- I don't think anyone really knew, okay, how's he going to react to that? He probably was unhappy.
COACH SULLIVAN: Well, Matt and I talked about it. I think you guys always insinuate that, when someone doesn't play, they get benched. That wasn't the case at all. So sometimes I think you guys put words into our mouth that really is not our intention as the coaching staff.
Matt played a lot of hockey. He played a lot of games. This is a battle you're playing every other night. If it was the regular season, we probably wouldn't play our starting goalie that many games in a row. As a young goaltender, sometimes that's a tough load to carry.
So we felt as though it was the right time for Marc, to give him an opportunity to get back in the game and try to win us a hockey game, and we were going to take it game by game, and we explained that to Matt, and we explained that to Marc. So our communication lines are very open with these guys. They understand where they're at. They also understand that they're both critically important to helping us win, and we value what they bring to this team.
So just because the coaches make a lineup decision on a game-by-game basis doesn't mean, by any stretch, that we undervalue the contributions that these guys make. I told these guys from day one before the playoffs started, we're going to need each and every one of us in this room to get to where we want to be, and we've used virtually everybody. And that's what we expect and that's what it takes this time of year. We value what all these guys are bringing to the table. The coaches have to make some hard decisions, and that's what we do.

Q. Mike, the team is responding pretty well to obviously the coaching moves you've made obviously. Tomorrow is Game 7. Is there a lot to be said to that group? Or because it's a Game 7, I mean --
COACH SULLIVAN: I don't know that a lot needs to be said. I think the players understand the situation. It's no different than what we just played last night. It's for us, and this will be our message to them again. It's a great opportunity. It's a great opportunity to play at this time of year, to put a stamp on these playoffs, to establish ourselves as a group, and we have to look at it in those terms. We've got to embrace the challenge, embrace the moment. Everybody's got to go out there and play hard, and most importantly, play hard for each other.
This group has been through a lot this year, and as I said all along here, I think we've got a nice chemistry in our room, which is great to see, and I know these guys are going to play hard for one another.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297