Although we have yet to see what Pens defenseman Kris Letang can do with a full season (due to his cyclic injury patterns) — you can’t ignore his current game.
Being nominated as a Norris Trophy finalist for the first time, Letang has gone from shadowing Sergei Gonchar to Pittsburgh’s go-to d-man.
Posting an impressive 38 points (5G, 33A) in just 35 games during the regular-season — Letang hasn’t stopped.
Ranked second in the league in scoring for the postseason so far — tied with teammate Evgeni Malkin — Letang has compiled 16 points (3G, 13A) and is skating to a plus-7 rating (which leads team).
Transitioning up-and-down the ice better than he ever has, Letang has developed a north-south game that economically helps him move the puck up the ice to Pittsburgh’s star forwards.
But he wouldn’t be at the top of his game if it wasn’t for his tremendous quarterbacking skills on the power play.
Leading the entire NHL with nine points on the man-advantage, Letang’s slick skating ability allows him to get his teammates more open — potentially with a better shot opportunity.
The amount of poise and precision Letang has integrated into his game since coming into the league is quite noticeable.
And although Letang does have enough opportunities to score — considering he leads the team in ice-time — heÂ is still a defenseman.
Defenseman aren’t suppose to be this dynamic.
There have been a number of good offensive defenseman in past history — but I’m not so sure they wereÂ as built as Letang is right now. Â And what I mean is, they took a little more time to be dominant.
Now, not everybody has Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in there lineup; however, you also got to remember he’s still a defenseman.
People who don’t watch hockey that often will look at the success of the Pens and assume that it is mostly because of the two-headed monster (Crosby, Malkin) — but Letang is probably the most crucial in jumpstarting their skill-sets.
Number-58 isn’t just a prolific scorer though — he knows how to hold his own on defense too.
Closing the gaps and eliminating opposing opportunity, Letang is currently second on the team with 23 hits and is also second in takeaways with 11.
Often times his play on the defensive side is overlooked because of how well he excels on offense.
If you look at the way Letang plays, it’s almost too difficult to tell if he’s actually a forward or a defenseman because of how well he controls both sides of play.
One thing is for sure — Letang has turned into a must-keep talent.
The calm, cool and collective Norris finalist will look to keep it going Saturday when the Pens battle the Bruins in Pittsburgh.
Expect him to do exactly that.