It's been talked about before here, but the timing could not be better for the Pittsburgh Penguins to experiment with Kris Letang at winger. The rotation at first line RW after Pascal Dupuis's unofficial but completely season ending knee injury has been odd (or embracing if you're a pessimist). Guys like Taylor Pyatt, Chuck Kobasew, and Brandon Sutter are good second tier players whose size and sand do not transition well with the speed and skill of Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz. Dupuis had/has the speed and skill to keep up with them two. So does Kris Letang.
Letang has been on fire lately, scoring points in 7 of the last 8 games (4 goals, 3 assists). His power play tally last night was a thing of magnificent beauty. What with the passing and vision and pinching in and that sweet wrist shot to finish it. Letang's goal was easily the highlight of the Penguins 6-4 victory over the New York Islanders. Point is, Letang's confidence is higher than it has been all season. Considering how injury prone he's been this year (missing 19 games), that is saying something. If the move is good news to Letang's ears, than he can take that swagger to top line and be even more productive than he already is.
And Kris Letang on the first line will be productive. Vastly productive. That line will also be one of the fastest in the NHL. It will also feature three of the smoothest passers. With Chris Kunitz crashing the net and Letang floating between the circles and Crosby working behind the net and . . . and feed from . . . and . . . wow.
What about the defense? If Letang is moved up what happens behind him? Will the blueliners would not look much different that they did in December when every one was hurt. Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik will be the top pairing with Rob Scuderi flanking either Olli Maatta or Matt Niskanen on the second. Whoever isn't playing with Scuderi that night will have either Deryk Engelland or Robert Bortuzzo (if he's back from exile) on the third unit. However you shuffle the deck they're all not bad options. Heck, they're pretty good. Given the sporadic defensive lapses Letang has, it's also a more sound squad defensively.
Until Ray Shero makes a trade or Beau Bennett is ready to go, the Penguins need a better right winger on the first line than Brain Gibbons. Putting Letang there for a month or so would bring a slab of stability to the forwards, which is something they have not had for a while. Darn injuries. You may not like it (lots of people hate change) but it's not a crazy conversation to have. Heck, Kris Letang on the first line might even be a gamble that pays off.
It's worth a shot anyway. What's to lose?
- Are the Pittsburgh Penguins Handling Kris Letang with Kid Gloves?
- Kris Letang Skating Again, but Still No Timetable for Return
- Malkin, Letang Join the Pittsburgh Penguins Injury Conga Line
- Pittsburgh Penguins Defenseman Oprik Returns as Letang Sits
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