The Pittsburgh Penguins by the numbers: Kris Letang

Kris Letang #58 of the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kris Letang #58 of the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

"This Pittsburgh Penguins defender had a roller-coaster type year playing from the blue line. Although still loved, is the hype starting to wear off?"

From scoring terrific goals to making mental lapses in defense, Kris Letang was about as up and down are one can get. The Pittsburgh Penguins All-Star defender wowed fans one minute while giving them anxiety the next. The current give and take relationship may wear on some, but make so mistake; Tanger is here for the foreseeable future and maybe longer.

As offensive defenseman go, there are few better. This season Letang put up substantial numbers once more, scoring 15 times, assisting his linemates 29 times, and playing 25+ minutes on average each night out. With the praise of offense, comes the downfall of defense. However, his regression defensively may not all be on him.

If anything, his up and downplay became a result of a fantastic partnership on the blue line. His chemistry with Brian Dumoulin speaks leaps and bounds about how important it is to have a right partner on the ice.  Once Dumo went out hurt, Letang’s number dwindled. Not only on offense but defensively as well as he could never get going with either Marino or Johnson.

The Pittsburgh Penguins by the numbers: Kris Letang

Going back through the season, it’s easy to pinpoint his top defining moments. The first one wasn’t even his; it was his son Alex who stole the show at the All-Star Game. From the press conferences to the all-around fun, that showed Letang in a new light and a new role moving forward.

The other moment of the season became a SportsCenter number 1 play, as Letang put on a show against the Stars. Not once but twice, Tanger deked and sidestepped his way past the Stars defenders en route to a five-hole goal. Even at 33 years old, he can still razzle and dazzle with the best, which makes him hard to hate.

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As the season moves on and into the playoffs, Kris Letang and Dumo should be partnered up once more on the top defensive line. Past that, he is on a contract with the Penguins until the summer of 2022. He has been a core player for a decade and a half, and if he wants to play more, the Penguins should make it happen.