I thought there was a little bit of swagger in coach Mike Sullivan’s pregame comments before the Penguins take on the Flyers in a big game this afternoon in South Philadelphia.
Here, see if you agree.
Sullivan was asked if he stresses anything different to his team before facing a team as hot as the Flyers are coming in (8-1-1 in their last 10). Starts? Puck management early in the game?
“I don’t think so,” he said. “Their team’s playing well. So is ours. There’s two teams that are going to play here today that are well aware of the importance of the game. From our standpoint, it’s more important that we concern ourselves with how we want to play and making sure we control what we can to get the outcome.”
“So is ours.” Sullivan had the option to paint his team as the plucky underdogs coming into a hostile environment against a home team clicking on all cylinders and he passed. I find that interesting.
Some other pregame notes:
— Marc-Andre Fleury will start in goal today. I also expect he’ll start tomorrow at home against Washington, but that’s not written in stone.
— Ben Lovejoy won’t play today.
— The last time the Penguins played the Flyers, on Jan. 21, they gave up two power-play goals in the first period and had to rally for a 4-3 win. The last time the Penguins played anybody, when they faced Carolina on Thursday, they turned pucks over like crazy early in the game, fell behind 2-0 and had to rally for a 4-2 win.
Hard to imagine they’ll be able to climb out of a 2-0 hole given the circumstances today’s game present.
“Certainly starts have been something that has been a priority for us,” Sullivan said. “We’ve had inconsistencies with that over the course of my tenure here anyway, to the point that we’d like to be more consistent so that we can control the outcomes better. When you play a game like today, it’s an afternoon game, there’s going to be a lot of excitement in the building, there’s going to be a lot of emotion, I think the first 10 minutes are important.”
— Here’s Sullivan’s take on the decision to call up Oskar Sundqvist and send down Dominik Simon yesterday.
“(Sundqvist is) a big, strong kid. I think he can play at both ends of the rink. His last time up with us, we could all see with each and every game that he played, he got that much more comfortable with the pace. He started to chip in at the offensive side of the rink. You can see how difficult he is to play against. He’s a big kid. He leans on people. He’s got real good awareness defensively. We have a comfort level that whichever line he plays on, he can play against anybody’s top players and he has the size, the awareness and the skill level to be able to be a solid checking center-ice man against them. We like all those aspects of his game.”
Sullivan went on to say he likes Simon’s skill level and is impressed with how quickly he has adapted to the North American game, but the implication is clear. Sundqvist is harder to play against than Simon, and at this time of year, in the bottom six, that’s what Sullivan is looking for.
More after the game,