Never ask what next, certainly not around the Pittsburgh Penguins. Every time you think you’ve seen the last of the bad luck, or the worst of it, something else happens.
Now Penguins top defenseman Kris Letang is out due to COVID protocol.
Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan confirmed Letang tested positive but is undergoing additional tests over the coming day or more to confirm he is positive. On Friday, Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry was released from protocol after follow-up tests confirmed a false positive.
“He is not a confirmed positive. He has had a positive test,” Sullivan explained. “He’s in the process of confirmatory tests. And that’s part of the protocol. And so until we get those back, we can’t definitively say for sure where he’s at.”
This season, Letang has four points (0-4-4) in four games. The top defenseman has piled up the points over the past couple of seasons. In 2020-21, Letang was the second-highest scoring defenseman in the NHL. Letang scored 45 points (7-38-45) last season and trailed only Tyson Barrie.
Kris Letang is the fifth Penguins player to enter the protocol this season, including Jarry, who was quickly out of it. Zach Aston-Reese tested positive in training camp. On the eve of the regular season, Jake Guentzel also entered the protocol, followed by Carter and Jarry this week.
Sullivan said a call-up from the WBS Penguins on Saturday was likely. P.O. Joseph was the player called up when defenseman Mike Matheson was injured. Also, Taylor Fedun has 127 games of NHL experience and is a righty. Joseph is a lefty.
Injured defenseman Mark Friedman, one of the rare defensemen who can play both sides equally well, will be available to the Penguins and presumably slot into the lineup.
Friedman suffered a lower-body injury last week.