UPDATE: Penguins Kris Letang Returns, 'Was Getting Lonely Out There'
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UPDATE: Penguins Kris Letang Returns, ‘Was Getting Lonely Out There’

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Kris Letang Pittsburgh Penguins

Cranberry Twp, Pa — Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang returned to Penguins practice Sunday morning as a full participant. Letang was not in a non-contact sweater to begin practice at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. Letang was also first up as the Penguins practiced their four-on-four game.

Letang, 32, has not played since being injured on Nov. 4 in Boston. Both he and Penguins winger Patric Hornqvist were injured in that game. Head coach Mike Sullivan confirmed this week Letang was skating on his own. Sunday was the first time he joined the team.

“It was fun to get back on the ice with the guys. I was getting lonely out there,” Letang joked. “It’s fun to be out there at practice. Get the motion, get back into the rhythm.”

The Penguins top defenseman has lived up to his billing this season. In 15 games, Letang has 12 points, including four goals. He also averages 25:00 minutes per game. The team has replaced his minutes by committee, including with rookie John Marino on the top pairing.

The Penguins power play recently came to life with four goals in their last 11 chances but had gone nearly 30 attempts without a goal. Letang figures to resume his work as the point on the Penguins power play as defenseman Justin Schultz is still out longer term.

Letang admitted his recovery is well ahead of schedule and signs pointed to him being available on Monday. Letang has been skating for more than an hour per day on his own before rejoining the team on Sunday.

“Yeah. I still did not discuss it with the medical staff or the coaches. It just felt great at practice.”

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Kris Letang Return

Kris Letang

With Letang’s return, Marino resumed his pairing with Jack Johnson. Juuso Riikola, Chad Ruhwedel, and Zach Trotman are the extra defensemen. One will dress Monday night when the Penguins host the struggling Calgary Flames at PPG Paints Arena. Trotman skated with Marcus Pettersson at practice.

PHN will update the story after practice as head coach Mike Sullivan and perhaps Kris Letang confirms his status.

Check out PHN’s weekend content:

Jarry Emerges as Serious Goalie, Time to Challenge Matt Murray

Blogspot: Penguins Whipping Boys, Standings, Babcock

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. OneTimeFTB

    November 24, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    With how well Marino has played with Dumo and Schultz being out longer term, I’d like to see Sully try to create a more stable “second” pairing. Rather than put Letang back with Dumo…

    Dumo- Marino
    Petterson- Letang
    JJ- Riikola/Trotman/Ruhwedel

    Bring Letang’s minutes down by being able to have a second pairing that can match up against top lines as well. Schultz and Petterson haven’t looked good in breaking out of the D-zone. Perhaps Letang can help with that. Of course it may take time to build some chemistry and perhaps it doesn’t work at all. On paper though it gives the penguins more depth defensively to even out some of the minutes over the course of a long season.

    I’d also be curious to see what the returns would be for the likes of Schultz (when healthy) and Gally. Schultz could be looked at as a self-rental for the year if the pens are in a position to make a run. We all saw the need for defensive depth during the cup run in ‘17. Gally hasn’t been doing what he was brought here to do which is score goals. Sully doesn’t seem to trust him as shown through his hesitation to put him on the PP initially (and when full compliment is healthy) or during OT when his skill should be able to shine. If Gally could bring back a serviceable RHD for the third pairing and the aforementioned pairings work out, Schultz may be able to bring back a skilled winger closer to the trade deadline.

    As Toronto is in desperate need of defenseman, maybe an extend and trade (Schultz) could be initiated for the likes of William Nylander. They are potentially losing their entire defensive core next year in addition to being hard-pressed against the cap. One of the highly paid four forwards is going to have to be moved at some point to shore up the defense and Nylander seems the logical choice. Matthews and Tavares are the franchise cornerstones and Marners numbers and versatility being able to play center or wing justify him sticking around.

    Thoughts?

    • Kenneth Joseph Troutman

      November 25, 2019 at 5:06 am

      Letang is a top pair player best dman on ice. I wouldn’t say dumo and Marino have been great either especially against isles top line. Letang doesnt need minutes dropped he is producing like he is 26. I see ur sentiment isnt deviled but think its wrong.

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