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June 5, 2017

Mike Sullivan

Nashville, Tennessee - Pregame

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Sullivan.

Q. The importance of staying patient for your forwards if the opportunities aren't coming. They talked after the game about things closing in. Patience and not being frustrated.
MIKE SULLIVAN: Yeah, I don't sense any frustration on our players' part. We're just trying to compete out there.

You got to give Nashville credit. They're a good team. They're two good teams that are playing. I don't think we've established the level of play that we know we're capable of, or at least not as consistently as we'd like.

But certainly we don't sense any frustration at all. I think our players are excited to lace 'em up tonight.

Q. What was the message to the team heading into Game 4?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, the message is to learn what we can from the previous experience, then move by it, get ready to play. I think that's the nature of a seven-game series, is your ability to respond and put things behind you, making sure that your focus is on the task at hand, just staying in the moment.

I know our guys are excited to play tonight. We're in a good position. We know that. We know that we're capable of bringing our game to another level, which I think our guys are excited to do.

Q. Regardless of the outcome tonight, you're going to be going back to Pittsburgh, where you do pretty well in the playoffs and regular season. Is there anything other than having some pretty good personnel that explains your success on home ice?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, I think we've got a great supportive fan base. They certainly are behind our team. I know our players and our coaching staff and our organization as a whole is so appreciative of the fan support that we get from the people of Pittsburgh. It's such a great sports town. In particular it's a terrific hockey town. We're so appreciative of the opportunity to play in front of that group. They're just so supportive of our team, regardless of how it goes. I know our guys are excited to be there.

Having said that, we're a team that is focused on staying in the moment. We're not so much concerned about Game 5. We're concerned about Game 4. We've just got to make sure we're ready to play tonight.

Q. What is Nick Bonino's status for tonight? How does it impact the lineup when he's in versus when he's out, decisions you have to make?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Nick will be a game-time decision. He's a very good player, so when he's in our lineup, he plays in a lot of key situations. He's one of our best penalty killers. He's just got a real good, solid overall two-way game. He has good offensive instincts. We can play him with offensive people. He's on our second power play. He's got great defensive awareness. He's a good faceoff guy. We utilize him in so many aspects of our game. He's a real good, solid two-way center iceman that makes our team more competitive when he's in our lineup.

Q. When they're coming after you as aggressively as they are, how important is patience in that equation?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, I think patience is always important in the sense we want to take what the game gives us, we don't want to force things that aren't there. I think as long as we're diligent in that regard. We are a team I think that has the ability to use our opponent's aggression against them. You've seen it throughout the course of this playoffs, when teams try to come at us hard. They want to pinch the walls, they want to try to establish a heavy presence, our team has the ability to quick strike. I think that's one of the strengths of our group.

We've got to recognize when those opportunities present themselves. When they do, we've got to try to attack and make sure we make the most of those opportunities.

Q. Judging by practice yesterday, it looked like you switched around the D pairs again. What did you think of the shuffled pairs you had in Game 3?
MIKE SULLIVAN: I thought they were fine. We didn't do anything to the D pairs yesterday in practice. We really didn't go in any sort of line combinations or defense pairs at all in anything we did. I wouldn't read into that.

I think the pairs that we have, we're pleased with. If we decide and choose to change them for whatever reason, we know there's familiarity. All of these guys have played together at some point throughout the course of the season. Some have played together more often than others. We always take that into consideration when we're putting those defense pairs together. But, you know, we believe in that group that we have.

Q. What is your explanation on how so many young players in today's game have been able to have such a big impact so early in their career?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, I think, you know, the game, when you look at how the game's being played today, it really is a lot about speed. The teams that are having success, I think speed is a common denominator that runs through their lineups.

I think young players with young legs have the ability to have an impact.

I also think these guys, because of the nature of their training and their coaching, they're prepared when they're ready to step into the NHL. There's always going to be a learning curve, there's a development process that continues to take place. I don't think a player ever arrives. But I think they're more prepared than they've ever been when they do get that first opportunity to play at the NHL level.

I think for those reasons, just the combination of the young legs and the youth and the enthusiasm that they bring, with the preparation process that they go through prior to joining their respective NHL teams, gives them the opportunity to have the impact they're having on the NHL.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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