The special teams unit which has gotten the most attention - or grief more accurately - for the Penguins as of late has been the power play. Going 0 for a billion (give or take) will do that.
The team's rock of penalty kill has gone mostly unscathed so far in the postseason despite giving up four goals to the Lightning's dangerous power play.
But the Penguins' issues on the penalty kill aren't anything new. You can pretty much pinpoint the exact moment the penalty kill began to decline.
4:36 of the third period of a 5-2 home loss to the Rangers, March 20.
That's when Matt Cooke was banished by the NHL for elbowing Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh in the head. Almost immediately, the impact on the power play could be felt. The Penguins gave up two power-play goals on the ensuing major penalty.
Since then, the penalty kill has suffered a clear cut decline statistically. Here's a look at the penalty kill's numbers since Cooke was suspended:
(In addition to the 10 regular season games Cooke was suspended for after the McDonagh hit, we've included a game against the Canadiens Jan. 6 Cooke missed for personal reasons, the four games Cooke was suspended for following his hit on Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin Feb. 8, the Rangers game March 20 and the Penguins' first three postseason games in the "without" numbers.)
Allowed Per Game
Allowed on the Power Play
Interestingly, the Penguins actually generated a little bit more offense without Cooke, who was actually leading the NHL in shorthanded points at the time of his current suspension with six.
Would the presence of Cooke guarantee a shutout for the Lightning with the man advantage? No. that would be naive to assume. The Lightning has too much talent to get shutout by any penalty kill, even the league's best. But you have to imagine Cooke could have prevented a goal or two.
(Photo: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)