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June 8, 2016

Mike Sullivan

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Practice Day

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Coach, how valuable has the fourth line been?
COACH SULLIVAN: Very valuable. They've been very valuable. I think all of our lines have a little bit of a different identity that make up what our group has become. We try to use them in situations that play to their strengths.
Our fourth line plays a lot of hard minutes for us, difficult minutes. They get a lot of defensive zone faceoff responsibilities where they're forced to have to defend if they don't win the faceoff.
They've done a terrific job regardless of who our opponent is or who we've played against throughout the course of this playoffs. Every guy on that line has done just a terrific job in helping this team win.

Q. This team has been training and practicing since September. There's maybe between one and three games left in their season, and you're still going through a full practice. Are there still things to be learned and taught out there, or is it just a matter of routine and focus?
COACH SULLIVAN: It's a little bit of both. We worked on things out there today that we think will help us in the next game. That's been our approach all year, is we're trying to get better every day when we come to the rink.
That's what we tried to do today. We tried to get better out there today. We watched some film. We saw some areas where we think we can improve to help our chances to win in the next game. We worked on some of those areas on the ice today. That's the process this team has gone through since I've been here. We'll continue to go through that process.
I don't think you ever arrive. We can always get better and improve. I think it's that insatiable appetite to improve and get better that has allowed this team to get to the point where it's at. We're going to keep pushing until we achieve our ultimate goal.

Q. The clinching game, we always hear about it, what makes that final 60 minutes for a team to achieve?
COACH SULLIVAN: Well, I think you know you're going to get your opponent's very best. We know that. We're going to have to have our very best in order to get the result that we want.
Our players are well aware of that. Our focus is on that one game in front of us. We've been through a few of those elimination experiences already this season. We have that experience to draw on.
I think our players are well aware of what to expect as far as how that game is going to be played, the urgency, the intensity, the focus, the determination that it's going to take in order for us to win.
We're going to have to bring our very best to the table.

Q. Nick Bonino absent today.
COACH SULLIVAN: Maintenance day.

Q. Ben Lovejoy played regular‑season games with Olli. When Trevor went out, you put him together with Olli. What prompted you to put them together and how have they performed?
COACH SULLIVAN: Our young defensemen like to play with Ben because he's very vocal, he helps his partner a lot with how he communicates. He's very encouraging on the bench. He's a real positive guy. I know whoever plays with him respects that about Ben.
He's one of those guys, when you're his partner, they know that Ben has their back. So regardless of who we put him with, when we put Olli back in the lineup, we thought Ben might have an opportunity to help Olli simplify his game, communicate with him.
We really like that pair since they've been together. They've played some important minutes for us against our opponent's top players. So far they've got the job done for us.

Q. Mike, to get back to your point about the process. Have you ever said explicitly that the next step is something tangible, like the Stanley Cup, anything more than the concept of getting there?
COACH SULLIVAN: No. I don't think it's necessary. We all set out in training camp to accomplish a certain goal. I think that goal is obvious. The most effective way to get there is to make sure that our focus is on the task at hand. That's the process that we talk about every day. That's what we talk to our players about.
I think our guys have done a great job as far as staying in the moment, not getting ahead of themselves, not dwelling on the past, but just staying in the moment and staying on task.
That, I think, is more important now than it's ever been. That was the discussion that we had with our guys this morning. We've got one game in front of us, and we got to focus all of our energy to bring our very best to the table to win a game.

Q. Sounds like you could be the first coach ever to be a finalist to the Conn Smythe. Curious as to your reaction to that.
COACH SULLIVAN: I really don't have a reaction. My focus is on trying to win a game. I'm trying to help our players in every way that we can as a coaching staff so that they can be at their best.
It's important, from our standpoint, to make sure that our mindset is on that task at hand. All the other stuff is for you guys. Right now our players and our coaching staff are focused on that one game.

Q. Could you gauge your value then, what you think your value is, what you've meant to this club?
COACH SULLIVAN: The way I look at it, this is the players' game. The players are the guys that get it done. They deserve the credit. These guys have played extremely hard. They've made the sacrifices that are necessary in order for us to be in a position where we are.
That is how we look at it. We put ourselves in a position to have a great opportunity. Now it's our job to take advantage of it.
But our players deserve all the credit for bringing us to where we are right now. They're the guys that go through the process every day. They make the necessary sacrifices on the ice in order to help our team win.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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