Here's what the Pens were saying in the locker room heading into their matchup with Dallas…
On staying focused with Wednesday's trade deadline looming:
Crosby: "You just try to focus on the game. I think it helps that we're playing tonight. When you're not playing, when you're kind of sitting around, it's a little different. I think the fact that hopefully we can just focus on the game here, actually we have back-to-back games, so it works out even better. I think as much as you can focus on just playing the game, I think everyone's better off that way."
Kunitz: "It's part of the business. Once you've been traded, you know it's kind of an anxious time for most people. There's only a select few guys on each team that don't have to worry about being moved because if there's an opportunity to make your team better, that's what management is there for. You don't think it's a personal move, it's just a move to make the team better or someone else is trying to make their team better. You have to go out and do your business, but I think in the back of your mind you're always wondering what's going on."
Cole: "It's tough. It's my least favorite time of the year, for sure. Without a doubt. Seeing your teammates go, it's tough. Guys you've built a lot of familiarity with, you've built a repertoire with, guys you love as a family, they get shipped out of town, it's tough to see. I realize our management's just trying to make the team better and everyone knows it's a business and everyone understands that, but at the same time it's certainly hard to see your friends go and getting new guys you don't really know. They often turn out to be fantastic guys, but when you see your teammates go, it's really tough."
On returning to a sense of normalcy and just playing games from here on out:
Crosby: "We've got a lot of them and I think it's important we find another level here down the stretch. Every team wants to do that heading into the playoffs and for us, it's the same thing. The fact that we do have a lot of games and we don't have a lot of other stuff I think will help that, and hopefully we can get to that next level."
Cole: "There's what, like 16, 17 games in March? One every other day. It's going to be a long sprint to the end of the year. It's going to be something that's going to be tiring, it's going to be fatiguing and we've got to figure out ways to continue to win games because you know teams in our division - Washington, Columbus and New York and man, maybe the other New York team, the Islanders - are going to be winning games. We've got to make sure we keep up with those guys, for sure."
Kunitz: "I think the month of March, I think we play 16 games. Not a lot of days off in there. it's something that once you get past that deadline on Wednesday, understanding that this is the group you have for the rest of the year and this is your last time to prove and make that point going into the playoffs, kind of solidifying how your team is going to play and the type of team you're going to be."
On how they reach another level heading down the final stretch:
Crosby: "I think that it's something that's going to come with time and I think it's going to come with our desperation level. It's ultimately going to come down to us playing the right way a little bit more consistently. I think we can hopefully start to get some healthy guys back here shortly. Get some rhythm that way as far as our lineup is concerned. But I think as a group, we want to find another level. It's not going to happen overnight. But I think it's a mindset and I think we're getting there. As far as execution-wise, we haven't quite been there. but I think our desperation level is starting to climb a little bit. You see kind of late in games and things like that, you start to notice it a bit more. Our penalty kill has been really good. I think those are things that are starting to come along too. I think we're pretty critical of our team and of our game, and we've found ways to win, so we've got to make sure we continue to get better here."
Sullivan: "We want to track the right way. We want to try to get better each and every game. We want to try and bring a certain level of intensity and a mindset that makes us hard to play against, that gives us the best chance to win each and every night. I think if we do that, we'll be in a good place. There's only so much you can control in this game. The process is one thing that you can. It starts with your attitude. It starts with your mindset every day. And just bringing that persistent stick-to-itiveness to trying to become the best team that we can be. That's the approach that we're taking with these guys. It's a very short-term focus. We're taking each game as it comes. We're not getting ahead of it and we'll see where it takes us. But in my experience of being around this game, I don't think you ever just flick the switch when the stakes get high. I think like everything, it's a process. We are what we repeatedly do. We're all creatures of habit. We want to make sure we create and form the right habits and it start with our attitude and our mindset each and every day. That, for me, is the most important thing with this team moving forward. We believe in the group we have. We think we have a talented group that has the ability to be a very good hockey team. But nothing is inevitable. We have to make sure we steer in the right direction."