"I was going back and forth with Mario (Lemieux) on texts (during the playoffs)," said [Paul] Coffey, widely considered to be one of the game's great power-play quarterbacks.
Man, I'd love to see those texts. My imagination alone suggests that "Are you kidding me?!" and "Seriously?" as a few of the messages Coffey sent, but in reality it was likely way more detailed and perceptive of the situation at hand.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out the Penguins' power play was struggling throughout the early postseason run. Hell, it struggled during the regular season too. Fans, media and even the Pens themselves addressed the issue, with varying degrees of criticism along the way.
Paul Coffey, who played with the Pens from 1987-1992 and won a Stanley Cup in the process to go along with his three previous Cups in Edmonton, knows a thing or two about running a successful power play unit. And since the Penguins' horrid 1-for-35 performance with the man advantage in seven games against the Lightning, his name has been circling through fan bases as a potential solution to what should, in theory at least, be one of the deadlist power plays in the league.
Known predominantly for his end-to-end rushes into the offensive zone, Coffey ended his career with the most goals in a single season by a defenseman (48 in 1985-86) and ended with 135 power-play points.
Let's be honest here: Can we collectively believe that the power play would have struggled this much if Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin weren't out of the lineup? I'm going to be one of the ones to go out there and say no. Maybe it wouldn't have been lights out or anything, but with 35 opportunities and only one goal, I don't think it's a stretch to say it would have been much, much better. Coffey agrees:
Coffey cautioned that the lengthy absences of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin played a larger role in the power play's frustrating showing than, say, the Penguins' coaching staff. After the season, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said he would be open to working with a consultant.
The last sentence in my emphasis, more or less highlighting the fact that we can't necessarily expect heads to roll as a result. The coaching staff worked with what they had available to them. Not every player is a Crosby or Malkin on the ice, let alone a puck-moving playmaker on the power play. But if Coffey is willing to come on as a consultant - whatever that means exactly - then who's going to stop him?
The PP can use all the help it can get, and a solution may not come in the form of just a free-agent signing or two. So by all means Mario, weigh your options.