The fact that Kris Letang is playing at all — let alone at his current level — is huge for Pittsburgh, but the process of fully moving past the stroke that sidelined him for two and a half months isn’t complete.
“He’s able to play in a playoff game 20-plus minutes,” said Penguins assistant coach Todd Reirden, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “But he’s not to the level where he was a couple of years ago, or last year in the playoffs, when we could get him to 27 or 28 minutes.”
Letang has played in 10 games since his return with seven of them being in the playoffs. He’s been getting better as he gets more games under his belt and he started making bolder plays towards the end of the first round.
That’s not enough for him to call himself 100% though. He still needs to work on his conditioning after he was forced to limit his physical activity in the weeks following his stroke. He’s not sure when he’ll reach his former level and there’s no guarantee it will happen before the end of the playoffs.
Still with every game, he’s getting closer to that goal.
After the Boston Bruins squandered a 3-0 lead against the Detroit Red Wings and ultimately lost 6-5 via a shootout, plenty of fans and commenters had enough. Many called for Claude Julien’s head.
They might not be alone.
During the latest edition of TSN’s Insider Trading on Thursday, Bob McKenzie didn’t say that Julien was definitely going to be fired, but he said there’s a “credible threat” to the long-standing Bruins bench boss’ job security.
The phrase “impending doom” came up, too.
So … yeah, it sure sounds like Julien is on thin ice.
McKenzie indicates that Julien should be behind the bench on Friday and could improve his situation if he reels off some wins. That’s where things get extra interesting.
The Bruins play three of their next four games and seven of their next nine contests at home. Most of those games are against playoff-caliber teams, however, so it wouldn’t necessarily be “easy.” Still, the opportunities are there for the Bruins to solidify their spot in the East playoff picture.
Still, it sure sounds like the margin of error is pretty small for Julien, just as it might be for Boston in this playoff race.
Want more coaching hot seat talk from McKenzie? He also discussed Paul Maurice’s situation with the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday:
New York Islanders fans probably needed a moment like this, even ones who are more than happy that Jack Capuano was let go.
It’s no surprise that John Tavares provided such a moment.
Watch in the video above as he makes an obscene move against Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg, and then finishes with some really nifty timing. Wow.
Tavares now has 17 goals this season, reinforcing the thought that the team’s struggles aren’t on him.
Now catch up on all of the drama surrounding the team:
Bob McKenzie updates on the fuzzy future for the Isles
Liam McHugh grills Garth Snow on a variety of burning questions
It’s been a tough season for both Anthony Duclair and the Arizona Coyotes. Even so, it’s still startling to see that he was demoted to the AHL on Thursday.
GM John Chayka explained the team’s logic for the demotion:
“Anthony is a good young player,” said Chayka. “Unfortunately, he has struggled this season. We felt this was a good time to send him to Tucson to work on a few things and hopefully regain his scoring touch. We hope to have him rejoin our team soon.”
Duclair’s been the subject of more than a few trade rumors, but this is probably the low point of a rough 2016-17 season for the 21-year-old.
It’s worth taking a second to consider the very different luck Duclair’s experienced in his breakout season last year vs. this one.
His shooting percentage was 19 in 2015-16, helping him score 20 goals on just 105 shots. By comparison, he’s only converted on 5.2 percent of his shots this year, nabbing three on 58.
In other words, Duclair’s work is probably somewhere between those extremes … but he’s also at that age where a player can make big leaps forward. So, it’s understandable that the Coyotes want to try to repair their prospect’s confidence, and it’s also reasonable that other teams might believe that they can get more out of him.
A trip to the AHL really might be good for his confidence but … still, wow.
Roman Josi told Swiss Hockey News.ch that he suffered a concussion from that Anton Blidh hit you can see in the video above, according to a translation passed along by the Tennessean.
So, that’s the bad news for the Nashville Predators. The good is that he also told that outlet that he might be able to return for the Preds sometime next week.
Josi, 26, has dealt with concussion issues before, making this report a concern for the long-term. Still, the possibility of a return so soon is definitely a positive.
Here’s what the next week and change looks like for Nashville:
Tonight: at Flames
Friday: at Oilers
Sunday: at Wild
Tuesday, Jan. 24: vs. Sabres
Thursday: vs. Blue Jackets
The Predators aren’t out of the West picture altogether, but they need to make the most of their opportunities. Much like the Bolts with Victor Hedman, Nashville’s hanging in there OK without one of their key guys, but every point counts. Getting Josi back would be huge.