Any notion that the Pittsburgh Penguins might ease Kris Letang back into the lineup after missing about two and a half months due to a stroke proved to be inaccurate.
Letang logged 22:30 minutes in Pittsburgh’s 4-3 shootout victory over Detroit in his return last night and he doesn’t seem to mind one bit.
“I felt pretty good,” said Letang, per the Penguins’ website. “I had a lot of fun. It wasn’t perfect structure-wise for me. I’m just happy to be on the ice. It’s something I missed a lot.”
He added that he felt “totally normal” despite how much the Penguins leaned on him.
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma praised Letang’s superb conditioning, which is what allowed him to play big minutes despite his lengthy absence.
This all might cause some fans to be nervous that the Penguins might ask him to do too much, too fast after going through such a serious event. That being said, his doctors concluded that hockey wasn’t the cause of his stroke and playing doesn’t increase his risk of having another one.
“He’s at no greater risk to suffer a stroke (from playing hockey) than he would be going to the grocery store,” Penguins GM Ray Shero asserted.
That’s of course great news for Letang and Pittsburgh, which can certainly use him going into the playoffs. The Penguins have dominated during the regular season, but over the last few years they have repeatedly fallen short of expectations in the postseason.
Getting Letang back might not change that trend, but there’s no question that they’re a much better team with him in the lineup.
Sometimes an angry Evgeni Malkin means a stray power play or two for his opponents, but it’s usually not the best idea to make him angry.
Giving a player that big and talented extra motivation just seems like a bad idea, right?
Joel Ward experienced that phenomenon on Tuesday, as Malkin responded to a blow from Ward with the goal you can see above.
This continues a red-hot streak for Malkin. Tonight’s goal and assist (and counting?) stretches his scoring streak to four games, each with at least one goal.
Malkin came into Tuesday with 10 points in his last six games as well, so … yeah, no. 71 is feeling it right now.
You know what they say: “What a difference a game makes.”
Even in the 82-game marathon that an NHL regular season is, that can be true.
Ryan Suter admitted he went too far with comments during tough times, yet there he was on Tuesday night, grinning ear-to-ear after scoring the 2-1 goal that ended up being the game-winner.
Heck, people were even joking about things. The healing powers of winning, right?
As of this writing, this win places Minnesota in the last wild card spot, and they’re close to elbowing in on the Chicago Blackhawks (who own a standings point advantage, but have played two more games so far in 2015-16).
Jeremy Roenick labels this 2-1 win as a “team win” for Minnesota, and it showed on that 2-1 goal, as the Wild showed off some picture-perfect passing and a willingness to crash the net for rebounds.
Let’s face it, though; Devan Dubnyk deserves plenty of credit, too.
It won’t be easy in the Central Division, and things may get heated again. Still, this is the sort of win that may just help Minnesota build up some confidence.
When you’re talking about bright sides, most people believe that they boil down to the light at the end of the tunnel for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Sometimes it’s nice to enjoy a little success in the present while waiting for that bright future, though.
The Flyers are providing at least a burst of sunshine lately, as Tuesday’s 4-2 win against the Ottawa Senators gives them … (drum roll) their first three-game winning streak of this season.
Even in recent darker moments, Philly’s been pretty impressive on offense, so Flyers fans are likely relieved to see a relative offensive outburst.
Sure, it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns – Radko Gudas might have gotten himself into some trouble, for instance – yet this is still a nice sign of life for a team expected to finish in the draft lottery.
If that fails … hey, the future may require shades.
Here’s an understatement: things haven’t gone very well for Dougie Hamilton early in his first season with the Calgary Flames.
(It must feel like the opposite of Tyler Seguin in Dallas for Boston Bruins fans, but feel free to disagree in the comments.)
You could look at Hamilton’s meager offensive stats and break down his disappointing work through a very of “fancy” and traditional metrics …
… Or you could just fire up a projector and show this own-goal on a loop.
Update: Did Hamilton picture all the negative headlines and harness that energy for a greater good? He scored the game-tying goal as Calgary upset Dallas 4-3 via a shootout.