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Jon Cooper Says “Mediocre Or Worse” Power Play Can Still Win In Playoffs

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

If there’s anyone who knows what it takes to win in the postseason, it’s Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper.

His team had had their names engraved on the Cup in back-to-back seasons and despite the 0-2 hole to the Rangers they still have as good a chance as anyone to win it again this year.

During the ESPN broadcast of Eastern Conference Finals Game 2, play-by-play announcer Sean McDonough shared an interesting comment from the Lightning bench boss on the importance of the power play in the postseason.

It’s interesting what Jon Cooper said about the adage that you have to have your power play in the playoffs. He said “Not really. You have to have your penalty killing. Where you have to have your power play is when you are behind. You can be mediocre or worse on the power play but you can’t be bad killing penalties and last long in the playoffs.” –McDonough on ESPN during Game 2

Cooper has been there, he’s seen it all. He’s been through heartbreaking losses in the conference finals, being swept in the 1st round after winning the President’s Trophy, and winning 10 straight playoff series to get where they are now.

In the last 10 series the Lightning have played in, they are a combined 63 for 186 on the power play. Putting it politely, that’s ridiculous. His team is hitting at a 34% clip over nearly 200 power play opportunities. But, the mantra he shared with ESPN comes from experience even during that time.

In the 1st round of 2020’s playoffs the Lightning went 0 for 10 on the power play en route to beating the Blue Jackets. They were 4 for 21 and 2 for 15 in a few other series these last two seasons. In every series though, save for the 0 for 10, the Lightning have allowed fewer power play goals against than they have scored.

Cooper’s team has allowed two or fewer goals in six of their last 10 playoff series and they’ve allowed just 26 goals on 179 opportunities or 14.5%.

The point I’m trying to make in highlighting this is that the Golden Knights’ power play doesn’t have to improve dramatically if they can simply get back to the penalty killing prowess they’ve had before.

In the 2021 playoffs, Vegas allowed just two power play goals in Round 1 and only three in the conference final. In the bubble in 2020, the Golden Knights were even better going 45 for 52 overall (86.5%). They gave up just one to Chicago, and three to each of Vancouver and Dallas.

Yes, the power play has been a mess for the Golden Knights, and even mentioning it in the same article in which the Tampa Bay Lightning’s is mentioned feels a bit off, but if Jon Cooper believes a mediocre power play can win in the playoffs, you better believe it can.

Vegas’ penalty kill took a major step back last season which was a huge reason why they missed the playoffs. The power play garnered most of the attention, and it probably will as we move forward, but we’ve seen a great penalty kill before, and if there are any ideas of aspirations of a Cup next season, we need to see it again.


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  1. Tim

    PP isn’t that important well lets see last year in the Montreal series we were 0 for the series on the PP. That didn’t have that big of an affect on us losing the series in 6. If you believe that I’ve got a bridge to sell you. Ask Florida not having a PP against Tampa if that affected there chances of winning. Now for future reference when we don’t have a PP next year if we have a good PK it won’t matter. Ken I know it’s slow news now but your really reaching on the value of the PP. I think you’d be wise to look at Edmonton and Colorado’s PP which both teams had great PP and low and behold there in the Western conference finals.
    On another note how about those Rangers Gallant has them playing some good hockey. I can’t wait to see the coach they hire who’ll be better then Gallant. As usual the Knights take two steps forward and one step back the reason there Stanley Cup dream is over. I’m still saying 5th place in the Pacific followed by Anaheim, Seattle, and San Jose.

    • Avs Hater

      Gallant is working magic and have to say Reaves is having a great run as well. I’m sure the Rags fans are happy the Vegas brass is so dumb.

  2. I’m not buying the logic. Gotta have ALL elements of the game working for a team to be Top Tier. If MEDIOCRE is what a coach is aiming for, a weak PP or PK is the way to go…

  3. Cooper was giving his team a suttle dig as they have been behind the majority of the series against the Rangers. You can get by with a less than great PP when the PK is good as competition is less likely to draw penalties as the chance of success isn’t that great. Unfortunately when your PP isn’t great competition isn’t concerned as they know it doesn’t mean much and take advantage of you one way or another as being in the penalty box and short handed is no problem.

  4. THE hockey GOD


    3 ICE inaugural TOURING HOCKEY coming to VEGAS JUne 18th and August 20th. Six teams, all coached by NHL HOCKEY HALL OF FAMERS.


  5. Tim

    Ken to your logic the best way to play it would be deny taking a Power Play. Your all going to say what but hear me out. The games going along your team has a good rhythm then a PP is called and it knocks your rhythm out of wack. Now you waste 2 minutes don’t score and you never seem to regain that rhythm. So as John Cooper said and Ken I assume agreed with that a PP is no big thing then just refuse it and play on. I don’t think there’s a rule covering that but it would freak out the other team. I know it’s not going to happen but the concept behind it makes sense when you have no PP to start with. Oh I know this year will be different but the only thing different will be our further demise into oblivion. Originally this team was built to win the Stanley Cup in 5 years then that changed to 6 years. They put all there eggs in one basket now there old, slow, and injury prone, so there won’t be a lot of fun to watch as all these young teams run us off the ice. For a management team that did such a great job in the initial draft lost there compass and there invincibility turned into one bad move after another.

    • Jeff

      You do understand that when you get a PP you don’t get an extra player, the other team loses a player. So unless you plan on playing just 4 guys while the other team’s player sits in the box, you have a man advantage. That makes about as much sense as half the other crap you’re spewing out like you have an idea at all. Thinking somehow gallant would have been the savior when he’s riding the best goaltender in the league. He has the equivalent of the ‘12 Jonathon Quick right now. But I’m guessing based on your hockey iq you don’t understand that reference either.

      • Tim

        Jeff it was a reference to how they said the PP wasn’t that important if so pass and it would still be 5 on 5 if you declined the PP not 5 on 4. It’s a math thing but of coarse you can’t decline the PP but our PP you just as well should. Not sure but I don’t think we had the New York goalie on out Stanley Cup team but we did have Gallant. Jeff you’ve got to loosen up a little your wand to tight enjoy posting it’s all in fun.

    • For this to make sense, you have to actually believe in the concept of rhythm. I’m not so sure I fully do, especially not enough to deny a power play… No matter how miserable my special teams are.

  6. Obvious

    What’s that?? Oh… it’s Gerard gallant and Ryan reaves laughing their asses off at fat bastard mcrimmon and 2 faced foley.

    From not making playoffs to conference final….. how telling

  7. James B

    I don’t comment very often.. Just like to say the Gerard Gallant led NYR power play is moving along at an over 30 percent clip

  8. Tim

    It’s going to be pretty hard to find a coach better then Gallant. The retread names there throwing around are the same coaches who have just been fired and for some reason a team in need of a coach believes one of these retreads will make them a winner. Trotz like Gallant stands out as a better coach who got shafted by there former team. Trotz gets fired because Barzel gives them an ultimatum and we still haven’t figured out why Gallant got fired except to say he took us as far as he could. Back to the only logical choice that would actually put a rise in the fan base and that’s Q no one else would provide that type of excitement.

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