Pens Talk Defensive Improvement

Mike Sullivan said they must be stingier

Jeff Hathhorn
April 04, 2018 - 5:23 pm

93.7 the Fan

No playoff team in the Metropolitan Division or Eastern Conference has given up more goals than the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“I think it starts with a mindset for sure,” said head coach Mike Sullivan.  “It’s attention to detail.  It’s a discipline.  It’s a willingness.  I know our team is capable when we are locked in and playing the game the right way.  I think we are a hard team to play against.  When we get away from it, that’s when we tend to give up the high quality chances teams get on us.  Our team is well aware that it’s an important part of our game going forward.”

Sullivan said he has talked to his team about it the last few weeks, noting they must be harder to play against and win more puck battles as the post-season, and a run to a third straight Stanley Cup, begins in just days.

“We have to be stingier defensively,” Sullivan said.  “This is a conversation we’ve had with our team for a while now.  It’s hard to score your way to championships.  It doesn’t matter how much firepower you have.  You have to have the ability to keep it out of your net.”

“Just better, harder defensively,” said defenseman Justin Schultz, “being stiffer and harder to play against.  We’ve shown we can do it, we just got to do it more consistently.”

Defenseman Kris Letang says the misconception many have is that it’s just the defensemen or just the goalie that are the issue when a goal is scored.

“Overall I think it’s a team game, when you look at the defense, you look at five guys on the ice,” said defenseman Kris Letang.  “You don’t look at only defensemen or the center, you look at all five guys and what they are capable of doing.  I think we are going in the right direction.”

“Obviously, the last two years we went to the finals,” Schultz said.  “We know what it takes, it’s just a matter of going out there and actually doing it.”