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Letang likes Sullivan’s ‘black and white’ approach

Mike Sullivan, Sidney Crosby

Pittsburgh Penguins’ Mike Sullivan stands behind Sidney Crosby (87) during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals in Pittsburgh, Monday, Dec. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)


The Pittsburgh Penguins are the NHL’s hottest team. Sidney Crosby is back to scoring like Sidney Crosby. And the guy who prior to this season was best known as John Tortorella’s right-hand man is getting a ton of accolades for the turnaround.

“It’s more black and white,” defenseman Kris Letang told when asked about the Penguins’ style under coach Mike Sullivan compared to Sullivan’s predecessor, Mike Johnston.

“Before there were too many indecisions. Sometimes you’d play a game and I would say the three forwards, one guy would decide we’re doing a long regroup and the other two guys wanted to go fast, so everybody wasn’t on the same page. With [Sullivan], he wants us using our assets, like speed.”

The Penguins’ speed was on full display in last night’s 5-2 victory over Nashville, as the Predators had all sorts of trouble trying to break out against Pittsburgh’s aggressive, layered forecheck.

The line of Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino, and Phil Kessel was especially effective in that regard.

“When [Hagelin] and Phil don’t try to make plays through the line and don’t try to dangle people, that’s when they’re most effective,” said Letang. “When they put the puck behind and a defenseman has to turn, it stinks for that defenseman. You have your back turned to the play. You don’t know your options.”

A good word to describe the Penguins right now is relentless. They’re getting in hard on the forecheck. They’re piling up the shots. They’re piling up the goals, too.

“I think we always believed in here,” Kessel told reporters. “We always knew we had a good squad. We just kept on battling and proved it.”

Some new tactics didn’t hurt either.

Related: Malkin credits Sullivan for Penguins turnaround