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Penguins Notebook: Could Jarry Be Even Better? Letang’s Labors



Pittsburgh Penguins, Tristan Jarry, NHL trade

SUNRISE, Fla. — It’s hard to not be impressed by the goaltending Tristan Jarry has given the Pittsburgh Penguins in recent weeks.

Unless, it seems, you happen to be Tristan Jarry.

Oh, he probably knows all the glittering stats, like how his 32-save performance during the Penguins’ 4-2 victory over Florida at FLA Live Arena Thursday night was his sixth win in a row, and how he is 10-0-2 in his past dozen decisions.

He just doesn’t seem inclined to dwell on such numbers, let alone compare the roll he’s on now to others he’s had in the past.

“I don’t really think about that,” he said. “Obviously, I’ve had some runs before, and I’ve had some bad runs. It goes either way. I’m just trying to keep this going as long as possible.”

Jarry offered those observations in a clinical, almost detached, tone. The guys who play in front of him tend to be a bit more animated when discussing his contributions.

“He’s been unbelievable for us,” Jake Guentzel said. “Each and every night, we feel confident with him back there. Both goalies, but especially him.”

Jarry’s recent surge has upped his record for the season to 14-3-3, with a 2.63 goals-against average and .921 save percentage. In the process, he has convinced a lot of people that he will perform at a rarefied level just about any time he is called upon.

“We expect it. because he’s capable,” Mike Sullivan said. “He’s a real good goalie. I’ve always believed that. He’s capable of playing at a real high level.  I think he’s playing at that real high level right now. That’s what he’s capable of.”

Letang stays busy

Kris Letang was averaging 23:54 of ice time per game when he suffered a stroke late last month.

That was the most on the team … but a pretty light workload compared to the one he’s handled in two of his three appearances since returning.

Letang logged 25:54 during the Florida game Thursday — during which he assisted on one goal and scored a shorthanded one — three days after playing 27:35 during a 2-1 victory over Dallas.

“He just has the ability to log so many minutes, night-in and night-out,” Sullivan said. “That’s such an important aspect of his game, of our game. We rely on him in so many situations, But I think that since he’s been back, just the simplicity in his game has been really effective. He’s moving the puck. He’s not trying to do too much. He’s getting involved in the offense. … He just helps us in so many ways.”

Enough to make you sick?

The Penguins took two points from Florida Thursday night.

Whether that’s all they’ll have to show for their visit to FLA Live Arena remains to be seen.

While the Pittsburgh Penguins have been uncharacteristically healthy this season — they’ve lost only 40 man-games to injury and illness through the first 30 games — the Panthers have had a flu-like ailment sweep through their locker room in recent weeks.

Nearly all of Florida’s most prominent players have dealt with it at some point — leading scorer Matthew Tkachuk, who sat out the Penguins game, is the latest to suffer from it — because it apparently is quite contagious.

Now, consider that the Penguins spent 60 minutes in close proximity to Florida players, battling for loose pucks and space on the ice, competing along the boards, trying to control the puck off 50-50 faceoffs.

If, in a few days, the Penguins have players affected by an ailment that prevents some of them from playing, it might not be difficult to figure out where they contracted it.

Setting an example

Pittsburgh Penguins alum Patric Hornqvist, who is recovering from a concussion, wasn’t the Panthers’ most prominent absentee Thursday night — that distinction would belong to Tkachuk — and he’s made infrequent appearances on the scoresheet in 2022-23.

In fact, he hasn’t scored a goal since getting one in Florida’s regular-season opener.

Nonetheless, Panthers coach Paul Maurice said the way Hornqvist, who will turn 36 Jan. 1, embraces his role as a fourth-liner has a positive impact on younger teammates.

“When a guy like that, who’s had the success he’s had, finds himself on the fourth line and loves the job, and relishes it … you get these kids come in and they’re pretty happy about playing on the top nine,” Maurice said. “He brings an importance to the fourth line, and respect to the fourth line, that’s really good for young players to learn.”