The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets in a shootout on Wednesday night.
The Blue Jackets took an early lead, resulting in 2-0 score after the first period. But the Pens battled back, tying the contest before the end of regulation. Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby scored in the first rounds of the shootout, resulting in a Pittsburgh Penguins victory.
It was the kind of game that required all hands on deck, and the Pens saw scoring from some secondary sources. However, one player of note watched this game from a press box.
Kris Letang was noticeably absent from Wednesday’s morning skate, and did not play that evening.
As soon as this was reported, Twitter and the hockey universe went nuts. The NHL trade freeze was ending that night, and the Penguins number 1 D-man wasn’t at practice. Ruh-roh.
After a ROUGH game against Anaheim on Dec. 23, it seemed like the armchair GM’s were getting what they wanted. Letang was being traded. He had to be. Why else wouldn’t he be at practice? He was probably on a plane to Ottawa. Or maybe to Boston. To hang out with Tom Brady and James Harrison. Wow. What a traitor.
Oh. Nevermind. It seems that Letang had the ever so common “lower-body injury”. (Although skeptics will tell you this is a sham, management is pulling on over on us)
Without #58 in the lineup, the Penguins dressed the weakest defensive pairings in recent memory. But despite not having Letang and Schultz, the Pens still managed to scrounge up a win.
Dumoulin led the team with 24:12 TOI. Olli Maatta anchored the point on the powerplay and registered five shots. Jamie Oleksiak led the team with seven hits.
The defense by committee worked out for the Pens, who took home two points in a Metropolitan Division showdown. They did this even after losing Chad Ruhwedel midway through the game.
All that being said, giving up four goals is not going to result in a win most of the time. This defensive group gave up what seemed like a million odd man rushes, and at times were picked apart by Artemi Panarin and Co. Without Kris Letang, this team does not stand a chance to win more games than it loses.
As for a trade: first of all, I doubt the current return for Letang would hardly warrant what he is actually worth. Secondly, you’d have to acquire another defenseman to replace him, which seems counterproductive. He’s been one of the defensemen in the NHL for the past five seasons. Waiting for him to turn it around is a much better alternative than swapping him for peanuts.
The Pittsburgh Penguins won a Stanley Cup without Kris Letang in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Penguins also had a healthy Schultz, Trevor Daley, and Ron Hainsey in the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs. The current lineup looks a lot different now, and lost guys the team could look to in important situations. Letang is such an important piece of the back end, that losing him (whether its by trade or injury) is not going to have a net positive result.
The super genius nails it here. Letang hasn’t been playing up to his potential, but we’ve seen how high his ceiling is. As Pens fans we could all learn a thing or two from the basic white girl proverb: “If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best”.