PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins won the game Friday, but they may have lost their top defenseman, Kris Letang.
Midway through the third period, Letang tangled with Joakim Nordstrom in the offensive zone. Letang dropped his stick and hobbled to the bench. According to the Penguins twitter account, Letang could not put weight on his left leg.
Letang is hurt and hurt bad. Not putting ay weight on his left leg. Hobbles to the bench and heads to the locker room -SK
— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) December 15, 2018
In his postgame press conference, Sullivan did not have an update, or at least wasn’t able to share it.
“No,” Sullivan answered simply when asked if there was any news.
Letang, 31, is having a rebound season and the rest of the league has noticed. Recently Letang was installed by betting casino BoDog as the fourth favorite defenseman to win the Norris Trophy (13/2). Counting his assist on Jake Guentzel’s game-winning goal, Friday, Letang has 25 points (7g, 18a) in just 30 games this season.
“Because we think we have NHL defensemen,” Sullivan responded about how he could be confident in a corps without Letang. “(Riikola) has played extremely well. (Ruhwedel) is an NHL defenseman. He’s played for our team for a few years and played in the playoffs.”
“We believe we have enough to win,” Sullivan stated.
Letang also became the Penguins all-time leading scorer among defensemen, surpassing Paul Coffey, earlier this season. Letang had a rollercoaster 2017-18 after recovering from neck surgery. He missed the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs and was hampered by the recovery all of last season.
This season, Letang has been back to his customary form and is averaging over 26 minutes of ice time per game this season.
In the event Letang does miss time, which seems likely, the Penguins attempted to put on a brave face though the injury would mean the Penguins would be without their top two right-side and most offensively gifted defenseman as Justin Schultz is out until February with a fractured leg.
“We’ve done it before. We know we can do it,” said Letang defense partner Brian Dumoulin. “We’ve been carrying eight D so far and everyone can play.”
“We’ve got to keep it simple as a D-core and pick up the slack if he’s missing at all missing,” Dumoulin continued. “No one is going to replace ‘Tanger’ and pick up the minutes he does. But collectively we can all play a couple of extra minutes, I think that’s something we can do.”
The Penguins have a busy schedule heading towards the Dec. 22 Holiday break. They host the LA Kings Saturday and have four games next week (Anaheim, Washington, Minnesota, Carolina).
— Alex Mick (@MrPuckFace) December 15, 2018