PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang is listed as day-to-day, according to head coach Mike Sullivan who addressed the media Saturday afternoon.
“It could have been a lot worse,” said Sullivan
The short-term absence leaves the Penguins without their top two defensemen and top two right-side, right-handed defensemen. Without Letang, Chad Ruhwedel becomes the only healthy right-handed defender on the Penguins roster. Sullivan did not specify if Ruhwedel or the left-handed Juuso Riikola would draw into the linuep.
If Riikola, 24, gets the sweater, it would mean the Penguins are playing with six lefties on their blue line. The rookie Finnish defenseman has one assist in 14 games this season, his first in North America.
Letang tangled with Joakim Nordstrom in the offensive zone, midway through the third period, Friday. Letang immediately dropped his stick and hobbled to the bench. He was helped to the locker room by Penguins training staff. According to the Penguins twitter account, Letang could not put weight on his left leg.
The Penguins beat the Boston Bruins, 5-3 at PPG Paints Arena.
Including Saturday night, the Penguins have five games in the next seven days leading to the NHL holiday break, so even a short-term absence could have consequences. The Penguins are in third place in the Metro Division, two points ahead of the New York Islanders but the Islanders have one game in hand. The Penguins also trail the Montreal Canadiens by three points for the second Eastern Conference wild-card position.
Letang has 25 points (7g, 18a) in just 30 games this season. He had the primary assist on Jake Guentzel’s game-winning goal, Friday. This season Letang has experienced a bounce back. The Penguins top defenseman is averaging over 26 minutes of ice time per game and is running the Penguins top power-play unit.