The Pittsburgh Penguins look to win their second Stanley Cup in two years on Sunday night. The Pens coming off a lopsided 6-0 win over the Nashville Predators are hoping to win it in Smashvilles home. The season each home team has won their games on home ice. Penguins Head Coach Mike Sullivan and co plan on putting an end to that. Here is a look at Penguins Mike Sullivan, Bryan rust and Chris Kunitza pre-game as well as Nashville’s Head Coach Peter Laviolette.
Pittsburgh Penguins Mike Sullivan, Bryan Rust and Chris Kunitz pre-game:
As important as it is to stay in the moment, is it ever possible 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.
Bryan, you were in the Playoffs last year. Take me back to what it was like the day before Game 6, how you felt going into that game, and here you are again the same spot?
BRYAN RUST: I think you try as much as you can to keep it — it’s just another game. Obviously the stakes are raised and things are a little bit more important and there’s a little bit more pressure, but you try and just treat it like any other game, just kind of stick to yo
The games have not been terribly close towards the end, especially the last few. How much does that contribute to some of the skirmishes we’ve seen in these games, and how much do you see that crossing over into Game 6?
CHRIS KUNITZ: I mean, I think it’s one of those things where you want to develop an edge, so when you are trying to wait for that final buzzer, if you’re winning or losing, you want to try and compete, you want to force yourself to try and not watch the scoreboard, so I think that’s when the stuff kind of boils over. But we know that every game is different. If you don’t go out there and earn that space on the ice that you need to win the game that they’re probably doing it and they’re going to be getting those bounces and chances, so every game takes on its own identity, and if you’re hanging on to grudges or something, you’re probably looking at the other team scoring goals routine and do what you do and you’ve got to know what makes you successful.
I was talking to some of the guys about wondering if there would be any residual carryover from the last game as far as the physicalness and the chippiness. Do you even talk to them about that?
PETER LAVIOLETTE: We talk about discipline all the time. I’m sure every team does through the course of the regular season, and as the Playoffs happen it even becomes more important. Every game becomes more important. Discipline factors into every situation. That being said, there’s still room for physicality. It’s a physical game. Our guys need to make sure that we continue with that. We can play a fast, physical game at times. They were physical last game. I think all of that’s probably going to continue, but discipline always factors into it. We always have conversations about it.
How would you describe the attitude of your team right now, and is it similar to when you came back home down 0-2?
PETER LAVIOLETTE: I think — I don’t think our guys — I know our guys don’t sit in there and wonder how we’re going to do this. I think we’re an extremely confident group, and we’ve had a lot of success, especially down the stretch in the regular season through the Playoffs. We’ve had success. We’ve found a certain way to play the game with a certain identity, and when we do that, usually the wins follow.