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June 10, 2017

Mike Sullivan

Nashville, Tennessee - Practice Day

Q. Mike, you praise these guys every day, but I'm curious to know, what do you think is the most impressive thing you've done during this playoff run to put the team in this position, just one win away?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, I don't know. I think -- I really believe in the coaching staff that we have. We've got a great group of guys. I think this coaching staff works hard and works well together to try to get the very best out of the players that we have, and that's our responsibility, and we try to do our very best at it.

But having said that, this is a player's game, and the players are the guys that go on the ice. They're the ones that make it happen. So we couldn't be more proud of the group that we have, and we're looking forward to tomorrow night's game and getting on the ice to see if we can't move forward in the right direction.

Q. (Indiscernible).
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, I think they play within themselves, and that's an important thing that we discuss with them a lot is just playing within yourself and not trying to do too much and putting the team in vulnerable positions. I think these guys, they keep the game simple. They defend hard. They go back for pucks. They take hits to make plays. They block shots when it's called upon. And so they're doing all the little things that add up to big things, and that's how they help this team win.

So from that standpoint, I think the best way to describe the group is just using that phrase. I just think these guys -- they understand where their strengths are. They understand where their limitations are. They play within themselves.

Q. Your team has had more scoring chances in 4 and 5 compared to 1, 2 and 3 combined. I was wondering what you saw in the last two games versus the first three.
MIKE SULLIVAN: I just think we're playing better. I think we're playing better. We're playing harder. We're playing smarter. I think we're executing. We've got good players.

So when these guys play a committed, inspired game the way they do and they execute, then their talent and their instincts are going to take over; and when they do that, they're hard to defend. They're going to get quality chances because of the talent that these guys have, and so I believe that with each game that we've played here, we've gotten better. And we're going to challenge this group, and we know we're going to have to bring our game to another level, and we believe we have it.

It boils down to effort and execution, and that's what we're preaching to these guys. But certainly it's not like we've devised a new game plan. I just think the players are playing extremely well for us right now, and we're going to need that moving forward if we're going to reach our ultimate goal.

Q. Only one win away from the Stanley Cup (indiscernible). Do you think that can be a source of motivation?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, I'm sure it is. The players have so much respect for Cully, as does the coaching staff for what he's accomplished in this game, what he does for this particular team. He's a great teammate, and he's a terrific player. And so I know Cully doesn't take anything for granted. He knows how hard it is to have this type of opportunity in front of us, and now it's our responsibility as a group of players to go out and earn it, and that's what we're going to try to do tomorrow.

Q. I guess we're all trying to figure out (indiscernible). Have you figured it out?
MIKE SULLIVAN: No, I haven't, and so we're going to do our best to change that tomorrow. You know, sometimes it works out that way for whatever reason. There are certain things in the game that you can control. There are certain things that you can't. And we're going to focus on those things that we can control. But that's the only approach that I think is prudent, and that's the approach that we've taken since -- in my tenure. I think our players understand it. We're just going to try to stay in the moment regardless of whether it needs to be played. We're going to try to play the game that gives us the best chance to win.

Q. As important as it is to stay in the moment, is it ever (indiscernible) to let the mind wander a little bit and realize what an opportunity this is?
MIKE SULLIVAN: I think players understand the opportunity that's in front of them, but I think it's very important that we exercise a certain discipline to stay in the moment, and these guys have done that. They understand the importance of it. And so as we've said all along here, these players have earned the right, have earned the opportunity that is in front of us right now, but we haven't accomplished anything to this point, and so we've got to make sure that we continue to earn our way, and that's through our performance. It's through our effort. It's through our execution. It's through our conviction and our commitment to winning.

And so the only way to do that is to stay in the moment and not -- we're not concerned about what takes place beyond that one game in front of us, and we know that's an inevitability, and we'll take each challenge as it comes. But right now our focus is on one game, and that's the game in front of us.

Q. Having been here last year, is it different as a coach than as a player the night before a big game? Do you worry about more? What do you think about?
MIKE SULLIVAN: I think coaches always worry. It's just part of our DNA. We worry about everything all the time, so there isn't a day from the day training camp opens. I just think that's the nature of the business. And of all the coaches that I've been around, we all seem to be the same way. But I just -- I think we go about our business just like the players do. You know, it's a process. There's a routine involved in making sure that you just -- we stay on task. And so the coaches are no different in that regard. We're going to go about our business like we always do, and we're going to do our best to be focused on the process, as well.

You know, all the games at this time of year obviously have heightened scrutiny and the importance of the games are obvious, but I think the process is the same, and that's -- I think that's what we rely on as players and coaches, and so we're focused on that. We're focused on the certain routines that work for all of us, and we'll go about our business as a team like we always do, and when that puck drops, we've got to be at our very best.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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