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Pens looking to improve consistency, mindset

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

After a 7-1 loss to the Capitals on Wednesday that both head coach Mike Sullivan and forward Matt Cullen described as "embarrassing," the team went back to their hotel in Washington, D.C. and stayed the night there before flying to Newark on Thursday morning for an afternoon practice.

After sleeping on what had happened, everyone got together to address the game. The players shared their feelings and the coaches shared their insights, and while what exactly they spoke about will stay between them, when they met with the media following practice a couple of key phrases jumped out: consistency and mindset.

In order to make sure tough games like that don't happen again, Sullivan said the coaches' thought process is this: to work with these guys and get them moving in the right direction as far as their consistency of play.

"For me, it starts with the mindset going into the game making sure you're in the right frame of mind so you can act on your instincts and be at your best," he said. "That's an investment I think we all have to make. It's hard to win in this league and in the absence of that investment, it's hard to win consistently. We speak to that a lot with our guys and for me, that's where it starts.

"I know we're a good team. I know when we play the game the right way, that we can play with any team in this league. For me, that's the important message the coaches need to continue to relay to these guys so we can continue to make strides and improve as a hockey team."

And it seems like the message has been received, as the players echoed their coach's sentiments.

"I think it's all about our mindset and making sure we're ready to play," captain Sidney Crosby said. "There's no excuse for that. So we have to make sure we bounce back (Friday against the Islanders)."

In addition to their mindset, Crosby said consistency is crucial when it comes to their effort, execution and discipline.

"Just all the little details that go into winning," he said. "I think that it's not easy to have those habits. In order to win you need to have them. I think we understand that. We've got to find a way to have those things more often."

The process of doing that picks up again Friday, and Sullivan, for one, believes his group will respond the right way.

"I think that's how you become a team in the true sense of the word, is you have to deal with the adversities of this league and inevitably they hit every team," he said. "They don't discriminate. It's how you respond to those adversities that I think dictates your ability to have success. It's the adversities in the short-term throughout the course of a game and then in the long-term from game to game, week to week, month to month, how do we continue to grow and battle through the challenges that our league presents. I'm a strong believer it's how you react and respond to those adversities that really gives an individual and a team a chance to be successful."

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