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 15, 2017

Mike Sullivan

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Postgame

Pittsburgh-1, Ottawa-0

Q. Mike, how do you think your team responded to your challenge after Game 1 to get more attempts and shots towards the net? Were they more effective in that regard? Did they heed your call?
MIKE SULLIVAN: I thought we were. I thought it was a pretty solid effort, start to finish. We've got to play a patient game. We've got to make sure we take what's given out there. When we have opportunities to get pucks to the net, we've got to try to get them there.

I thought we had significant offensive zone time once again. I thought we did a better job at getting pucks to the net tonight than we did in Game 1. I think our intent was to look to shoot the puck a little bit more. We still got a fair amount blocked. I think we've got opportunities to find leans and get more pucks down to the crease for that next play.

In my estimation, that next play is a really hard play to defend when you can get that first puck there. The puck goes somewhere. Decisions have to be made. And usually opportunity can present itself. I thought it was a real diligent effort on our guys' part.

Q. Mike, there were a couple of times, obviously, when Phil was visibly frustrated the way things were going for him and the team. I think to the point where even you had to talk to him. I'm just wondering what would have been said. Do you prefer to see a guy react that way?
MIKE SULLIVAN: I think you guys take things out of context. You guys have no idea what conversations go on on the bench. So guys -- it's an emotional game out there. Guys are heated. They're heated for all the right reasons, because they're invested, they want to win.

So do we have some exchanges on the bench? Sure we do, and we encourage it because I think it helps our game. So just because a guy gets a little bit emotional in the bench, for me, I think it helps our overall team game. I think progress is made. So we call it a man's argument. That's the way it is. I think lines go back and forth and talk to one another. I think it brings juice to the bench.

And Phil's an emotional guy. When he comes back to the bench, he wants a pass and he doesn't get it, he lets a guy know. I have no problem with that. I don't think our team has any problem with that. I think that's how we make progress. That's how we come together as a team. I think it brings energy to our bench, and for me, that's a good thing. So it tells me that we've got a bunch of guys that are invested and they want to win.

Q. Coach, once Justin Schultz went up, what did you and Jacques Martin decide in terms of juggling the "D"? And how do you think the guys responded with having to play with just five for most of the game?
MIKE SULLIVAN: I thought they did a great job. I think Jacques does a nice job, and he's trying to balance getting certain matches that we'd like to get with making sure that we spread the minutes to a certain point where nobody gets over taxed. And so we believe we have a defense core that we have the ability to spread the minutes, and everyone is at their best when that's the case.

So he walks that fine line, when you lose a guy that early, of trying to get certain matchups that we think are favorable to us, but also making sure that he manages those minutes the right way so no one gets -- bears that burden of responsibility that might be too great.

So I think Jacques does a terrific job back there, and I thought the players responded really well.

Q. Mike, getting back to conversations on the bench, there was a media time-out, and you had both hands on Malkin's shoulders. You're in his ear. I don't know what to make of it. Was it instructional? Was it encouraging?
MIKE SULLIVAN: I know what I want to make of it. You guys got too many cameras on the bench. Those conversations are between myself and the players. They're usually conversations that involve plays that happen on the ice, or sometimes they're words of encouragement. Sometimes they're reminders of making sure that we stay focused.

So we have those conversations as coaches with those guys a lot.

Q. If I could just follow. Was the mood pretty good throughout?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Q. You had reason to get frustrated if you wanted to tonight. How did your bench take the injuries and not being able to score?
MIKE SULLIVAN: They were fine. Listen, it's hockey. What I love about this group of players is we can win different ways. We have some talented guys, but we don't have to be in a game -- we don't have to win a Game 7-6. We can win a Game 1-0, just like we did tonight, as long as we make sure that we embrace that challenge and we don't feed our opponent's transition game.

And most importantly, we're a team that doesn't beat itself. We make sure that we stay focused. We take what the game gives us out there. There's going to be shifts against a team that's playing defense first, the way they are, and their counterattack mentality where there's going to be shifts out there where you might not get much, and we have to be okay with that. And that's fine because they're not getting much either.

So I think that's the mindset that we have to have. I thought our players from start to finish tonight had a real discipline of mind and making sure that we stayed the course, that we didn't try to force things out there, and that we look for our opportunities to create when they presented itself.

There were a number of really high quality chances tonight that we didn't score on. We hit some posts. But we were really pleased with the amount of quality scoring chances that we were able to generate, and we were pleased with the way we were able to dictate the terms out there.

Q. Mike, I guess two-parter. What can you say about or status updates for Russ Schultz and obviously Hornqvist too?
MIKE SULLIVAN: I can't really give you much at this point. I haven't had an opportunity to get to our medical staff. But we'll probably have more information for you moving forward.

Q. The second part, different question, but is Phil always like that on the bench? Does it tell you something if he's like that? Does he seem more engaged if he's like that?
MIKE SULLIVAN: It tells me he's invested, like I love that about the guy. Yeah, he's always like that. I think our players get a kick out of him, quite honestly.

He's a guy that -- he's a vocal guy. He's an emotional guy, and he's all in. He wants to win. So when he comes back to the bench, if he thinks he wanted a puck or he was open, he lets a player know. Hey, give it to me. I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

For me, that's all part of the team process. That's how we improve as a group. I think it galvanizes our group, and I think, quite honestly, I think the rest of our team gets a kick out of him.

Q. Mike, this is beating a dead horse here with Phil.
MIKE SULLIVAN: I don't know how to answer that question.

Q. I would actually send it forward a little bit. When things settle down on an off day, do you then sit down with him and dive further into what was discussed? Is there a follow with you as a coach with the player?
MIKE SULLIVAN: It depends on what the conversation was. If it warrants it, yes. If it doesn't, no. A lot of times we just move by it. If we think the conversation escalates to the point where it becomes a distraction, then that's usually where I step in and tell them enough, move on, and they do.

So it's really -- I think it's a relationship that we have that I think works for our team. Our coaching staff, we like the juice on the bench. I'd much rather have a bench that's invested in trying to win, that has some emotion and some personality to it, than a group of guys that are flatlined, and we've got to check them for a pulse. So we've got plenty of personality on our bench, and our coaching staff likes it. I think it helps us -- it's part of the fabric of the identity of this group of players.

Q. Mike, you just mentioned something that I was going to bring up. Having a bench that doesn't have a pulse or had flatlined, that sure looked like the way it was when you got here. How did you kind of stoke the fires and get things moving in that direction to where we can ask questions like this?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, I think, number one, we encouraged it, first and foremost. We're encouraging our players to talk to one another. I think that's a good thing. I think communication along the benches is healthy, and we're playing a game that's emotional.

Sometimes a conversation can get a little heated, and trust me when I tell you this, our coaching staff is very well aware. We monitor everything that goes on on the bench. Doc and I are pretty tuned in to the conversations that take place in front of us, and we believe they're productive. If we think they're not or they become a distraction, that's usually when one of us steps in, and these guys are respectful. They get it. They understand it. And they're a mature group. They move by it.

So I think -- I think it's hard to win and be -- it's hard to be ultra-competitive in the absence of emotion. I think emotion is the fabric of our game. I think that's part of what makes our game as great as it is. So as a coaching staff, we don't want to discourage that. We want to encourage that as long as it's channeled the right way, and we have those types of discussions.

Let's make sure that we keep it above the line and it's productive, but certainly it gives our team personality, and that's what I love about this group of players.

Q. I'm not going to ask about Phil.

Q. You only got one goal, but is today a pretty typical example of offense can be the best defense, where they're not mutually exclusive, where having all the zone time was one of the best things that prevented Ottawa from scoring goals?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Certainly, when you have the puck in the offensive zone and you force your opponents to have to expend energy defending you, it's hard for them to mount an offensive attack.

I believe that with the group of players that we have, our best defense takes place up the ice. Whether it be with our possession, whether on puck possession or just with our pursuit by chasing pucks and putting defensemen under pressure and forcing them to have to make plays under duress. That's when opportunities present itself.

So on defense, from our estimation, it's not always -- it's not just about playing in your end zone. It takes place 180 feet from your net if we're playing the game the right way, and I think that's -- when you look at the type of team that we have and how we're built, I think that's when this team is at its very best.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
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