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Sullivan Turns Pens into a Force

Posted by Webster Washington on 6/8/2016 7:32:05 AM

Lord Stanley's cup will be in Pittsburgh on Thursday night. And while the list of characters in the script that brings the Cup so close to the possession of the Pittsburgh Penguins, their coach, Mike Sullivan, should be among those in the starring roles. Sullivan's leadership is a big reason the Stanley Cup finals betting is so solidly in the Penguins' favor these days.

Made Players Better

Here's a guy who took over an underachieving team in mid-December and turned them into a force. He certainly has had a good cast to drill, with lines led by Evegni Malkin and perennial all-star Sidney Crosby, and defensive standouts such as Kris Letang and Ben Lovejoy. But Sullivan took his crew and made them believe in him and themselves.

"When he’s holding players accountable, he has a way that they almost feel good about themselves as he is doing it," said Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, who Sullivan assisted for seven years at Tampa Bay. "He’s such a great communicator, but he’s not going to let anything slide whether you are a first-line guy or a fourth-line guy, a top draft pick or a free agent."

"(Sullivan is) blunt," Lovejoy said. "He has come in from Day 1 and asked us to be more disciplined."

It was that kind of discipline and accountability that Sullivan instilled in his players from the day he got the reins. He put Crosby on notice to be more of a team player. He made film sessions endless and practices grueling. The Penguins have reflected all of this in their play, showing aggressiveness and discipline at both ends of the ice, and fitness for 60 minutes each game. They have survived the tough Metropolitan Division, and have conquered the team with the best regular-season record in Washington, and the defending Eastern Conference champions in Tampa Bay.

Stanley Cup Finals Betting Favorites

The Penguins are 48-23-7 since Sullivan took over and are now on the verge of grasping the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2009. The Stanley Cup finals betting is heavily – and deservedly - in the Pittsburgh camp. They should be favored to clinch on Thursday. If the Cup is indeed paraded through downtown Pittsburgh, Mike Sullivan should be at the head of that parade.

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