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June 2, 2016

Mike Sullivan

San Jose, California: Practice Day

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. I'm just wondering, I think you've only been out of the eastern time zone once or twice since you've been coaching. Are you expecting a challenge, not playing in the east for a change?
COACH SULLIVAN: I don't know that it's any more of a challenge than what San Jose presents. Both teams are going through the same type of challenge with the time zone change. I think the time in between games certainly helps us in that regard. I'm sure our guys will handle it the right way.

Q. I was wondering if you're aware of Logan Couture's comments on Sid's faceoffs last night and if you have any response to it?
COACH SULLIVAN: I have no response to it. My main concern is about our hockey team, our mindset, our determination, and the focus of our group. That's where my main concern is and that's where I'm going to use all my energy.

Q. In the third period, in 10 or 11 minutes, you didn't get a shot on goal. Do you think you went into a bit of a defensive shell or was it a case of the Sharks making a big push?
COACH SULLIVAN: I think when you look at the way the game is being played, there's momentum swings on both sides. These are two pretty good hockey teams going at it. There are times when we have momentum and territory and zone time.
When San Jose makes a push, they have good players, they're a good team, they're going did try to do the same. That's really the way I see it. That's the way the first two games have played out.
I really like how our team has played. I think when we have had defensive zone time, I think we've defended extremely hard. We've defended extremely well as a group cooperatively.
That's my main goal here, is to make sure we get through those momentum swings without getting hurt. I think our guys have done a really good job in that regard.

Q. With the criticism that some of the San Jose players had, saying that Sidney Crosby cheats on faceoffs, are you concerned at all that may affect the way the refs and the officials look at faceoffs further in the series?
COACH SULLIVAN: No, I'm not concerned at all.
Listen, all centers that go in there and take faceoffs, they're trying to get an edge. That's just the reality of it. They're doing the same things our guys are doing. The way I look at it, that's all part of being a center iceman, trying to figure out a way to get an edge and be successful.
Sid isn't doing anything their guys aren't doing. Quite honestly, it really isn't worthy of a response. As I said before, my main focus is on our group and on our mindset going into this Game3. We want to make sure that we focus on the task at hand.

Q. Conor Sheary, his overtime goal last night, another example of some of the rookies, guys who weren't with the team last year, making numerous contributions. How about those guys and how they've contributed to the success of the Penguins this year, Sheary in particular?
COACH SULLIVAN: Well, Conor really has done a great job for us. He's had a little bit of a whirlwind of a year, being called up, sent down a few times. Just going through the evolution of a pro player, I think, in the development process.
But each time he's got called back up, he's brought a level of consistency to his game and has brought more of a contribution to this team. I can't say enough about what he's done for our team here in the post‑season.
He plays a lot of critical minutes for us. He plays in a difficult role, playing with Crosby, which is not an easy thing to do when a young player has to play or is asked to play with top players, because there's an expectation there. I think Conor has handled it extremely well.
He's scored some big goals for us and we expect him to continue to play that way down the stretch.

Q. Heading into this game, are you kind of expecting the Sharks to start out the same way you did, with a fast start, considering it's the first‑ever game they've had in a Final at home? Do you expect them to come out faster than they did in the first two?
COACH SULLIVAN: I would expect them to certainly have a strong push. San Jose is a very good hockey team. They're good at home. I'm sure their fan base will give them a boost of energy. So we would expect that. We expected the same push from Game2, which they did, as well.
You know, I think our guys are accustomed to it. We played in enough away buildings to this point, played in some difficult series to this point, that our players are well aware of what to expect and how to respond the right way to it.

Q. How impressed have you been with the way the defensemen have stepped up with Trevor being out of the lineup?
COACH SULLIVAN: I think they've done a great job as a group of six. They really have been our unsung heroes. They go back for pucks, they take hits, they make plays, they help us get out of our end zone, defending extremely hard, blocking shots.
I think they're doing a lot of those thankless jobs that don't necessarily show up on the score sheet or it's difficult to quantify in a statistic. They just help teams win.
I know our team recognizes the contribution that our defensemen are making right now to this group. As their coaching staff, we're certainly very appreciative of their effort.

Q. You coached against the Penguins and Sidney Crosby, saw him a lot, especially when you were with the Rangers. Is this the best you've seen him elevate his game?
COACH SULLIVAN: It's as good as I've seen him play, yes. What I've really admired about Sid's game is just his overall complete game. It's not just about offense. He's winning faceoffs. He's defending. He does so many of the little things at both ends of the rink that are helping us win right now.
I think his offense speaks for itself. But what I've really grown to admire watching him over the last few months is just his overall complete game. He is a real good two‑way player, his attention to detail away from the puck down low in our end zone, defending when the time is called upon to defend. He's really been the leader of this group in more ways than one.
But his complete game for me is what is most impressive.

Q. Sheary talked last night about how Sid sort of set up the winning goal in overtime. It's one thing for Sid to see the game at such a high level, but what does it say that he's able to communicate back to his teammates and orchestrate it with everyone on the ice?
COACH SULLIVAN: Well, he's a great leader. He takes charge of his line, he takes charge of situations on the ice. You can see the interactions that he has with his teammates on the ice, on the power play, on the bench, in between periods. He's leading in the true sense of the word. I think that was just an indication of it in the overtime last night.

Q. How big have the forwards also been in front of Matt? Nick Bonino has had 10 blocked shots the first two games, Chris Kunitz is never shy getting in front of the puck.
COACH SULLIVAN: What we've really liked about our team is just our overall team defense. It's not just about playing in our end zone, it's about our puck‑pursuit game up the ice. I think we're best when we're defending 180 feet from our net, where we're forcing our opponents to have to make plays under pressure, limiting zone time, keeping our gaps tight.
Our coaching staff has really been very pleased with how hard our guys are playing, the cooperative effort that's taking place amongst the five guys in front of Matt, regardless of which zone it is.
When we do end up in our end zone, we have a brave group. We're willing to block shots. We're getting in the shot lanes. We're boxing out and trying to get sticks in front to make Matt's job as easy as possible as far as his sight lines and his movement.
It's really been an impressive effort from our team so far. We're going to need more of it moving forward. We've got a lot of work to do ahead of us, and we're well aware of that. We're just going to have to continue in that same vein.

Q. Overall, a lot of the young guys who weren't with the team at the beginning of the season, they've made significant contributions. How have they fit in so seamlessly and quickly, especially as the games have grown in magnitude?
COACH SULLIVAN: I think you have to give a lot of credit to our locker room. I think our veteran guys have done a terrific job as far as welcoming these guys into the locker room, making them feel comfortable, making them feel a big part of the team. They've been great mentors for these kids when they're called up.
I also think you got to give credit to the young players. They've come up and they've performed. They've played extremely well. I think our veteran guys appreciate what they're bringing to the table as far as helping this team win.
There's credit to go around on both sides. But for me, the dynamic that's taking place in the locker room right now, I spoke about it on a number of occasions here in the post‑season, about the chemistry that this group has. We really like the mix we have of our veteran players and our young guys that are bringing the energy and the enthusiasm to the rink every day.
It's a credit to everyone involved. I think we've got a close‑knit locker room. These guys really enjoy playing for one another. That's really a powerful dynamic.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you for your time. Have a great day.
COACH SULLIVAN: Thank you, guys.

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