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Pens' penalty-kill has been floundering without Cole

Do you miss Cole?

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The trade was quite complicated. Defenseman Ian Cole was acquired by the Ottawa Senators on Friday in the three-team deal that sent Derick Brassard to the Pittsburgh Penguins. That was the first step. Remember? Messy, complex and almost did not take place - until the Vegas Golden Knights decided to absorb part of the salary and make the trade work for every team involved. 

Step two. The Senators then traded Cole to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Ottawa received a third-round pick (2020) and forward prospect Nick Moutrey in the deal.

Cole spent the past three seasons in Pittsburgh and helped the club win back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2015-16 and 2016-17. The 29-year-old has three goals and 13 points in 47 games this season and has registered 18 goals and 90 points in 385 career NHL regular season games.

And now Cole is competing for a playoff spot with the Jackets. In 12 games, he has recorded two goals and six points, and managed to get a +9 differential. Impressive. His penalty-killing abilities were always appreciated in Pittsburgh, and now the Penguins deeply miss them. And it shows... 

"The Pittsburgh PK was really good early in the season - from 12/1 to 2/23 they were #1 in the league with a 88.3% kill rate so maybe they were due for some regression no matter what," you can read of the Pensburgh.com website. 

"The Pens also had to play all of the Cole-less stretch of the last few weeks without their starting goalie too since Matt Murray was hurt. Show me a backup and 3rd string goalie playing all the games over a period of time, and chances are I’ll show you a bad penalty kill."

"30th in a 31 team league isn’t great. Do the Pens miss Cole in this area?"

You decide for yourself. 

These are the statistics before Wednesday night's game against the Montreal Canadiens: 

The Blue Jackets and Cole are chasing the Penguins in the Metropolitan division with just two points separating the two clubs in the race for the postseason. Let's not forget that there is a tight race in the Eastern Conference with the Florida Panthers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers also fighting for a playoff spot.