PITTSBURGH — When the Penguins went to work on power play preparations during Monday’s morning skate, assistant coach Rick Tocchet - normally in charge of the unit - was at the other end of the ice.

Head coach Mike Sullivan took over Pittsburgh’s power play as part of Saturday’s coaching change, hoping to spark the league’s 27th-ranked unit. Tocchet, whom Sullivan inherited, will now focus on the Penguins’ forwards and 5-on-5 pre-scouting assignments.

Something had to give. Over the last four seasons, Pittsburgh’s power play was ranked ninth, first, second and sixth in the NHL.

A unit comprised of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang (before injury) has managed just 15 goals on 96 chances (15.6 per cent). Only Anaheim and Calgary have netted fewer power-play goals this season.

In perspective: Carolina’s Justin Faulk, the league leader, has nearly as many power-play goals himself (12) as the entire Penguins’ roster.

“I think when you have that much skill on one unit, in my experience being around the league, a lot of the top players want to make the perfect play,” Sullivan said. “They almost want to pass the puck into the net. Our challenge here is to tweak that mindset.”

At least for Monday’s matchup against the Capitals, the Penguins won’t be making many changes at all. Sullivan is in evaluation mode. Defenceman David Warsofsky, with 15 games of NHL experience, will fill in for Letang at the point.

“Over time, I’m sure things will change a bit,” Crosby said. “But right now, his message was about how we’re going to play, not necessarily the X’s and O’s.”

In 110 minutes of power-play action, the Penguins’ top unit has produced only 101 shots - averaging less than two per power play.

Pittsburgh’s top unit - which plays the bulk of every power play - accounts for 12 of the 15 goals. The second unit, comprised of Patric Hornqvist, Nick Bonino, Beau Bennett, David Perron and Brian Dumoulin, perhaps only illustrates the Penguins’ lack of depth. They’ve scored just three power-play goals this season.

“I want to try to establish a shooting power play,” Sullivan said. “I want to try to establish a 5-on-5 mentality even though we have the extra man. We’ve got to hunt pucks. I think if we do those things and focus on that process, the highlight-reel plays will open up. That’s my challenge to sell to these guys.”

Frank Seravalli can be reached at frank.seravalli@bellmedia.ca.