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The last two Stanley Cup champions (Kings in 2012, Bruins in 2011) had awful power plays in the playoffs, but they were strong enough at even strength to overcome their struggles with the man advantage.
Despite these teams' success with a lackluster power play, it's very important to have strong special teams in the postseason. For clubs that don't have reliable goaltending and/or defensive depth, an effective power play is a very valuable weapon.
For example, the Pittsburgh Penguins rank third in the NHL with a 22.9 power-play success rate. With several talented forwards such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Jarome iginla, along with an elite offensive defenseman in Kris Letang, the Penguins' power play is one way for them to overcome any defensive or goaltending issues they may face in the playoffs.
Converting on the power play also gives teams a lot of momentum, which really benefits teams without a lot of playoff experience.
In addition to an effective power play, having a good penalty kill is important to playoff success. Mistakes are magnified in the postseason, and not letting your opponent score a crucial goal and gain some confidence plays a key part in every series.
The Kings had the best penalty kill percentage (92.1) of any team in last year's playoffs, and this was a major part of their Stanley Cup triumph.
Fine-tuning the power play and going over penalty-killing situations will be a primary focus of NHL coaches in the remaining practices and film sessions before the regular season ends.