Kris Letang

Letang concussed, Penguins will dress five defensemen


Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang was the victim of an awkward hit by Arizona’s Shane Doan during Saturday’s game and was hospitalized as a result. The Penguins revealed today that Letang is out of the hospital, but he did suffer a concussion.

“We’ll see how he feels over the next few days and go from there,” Penguins coach Mike Johnston said.

That puts the Penguins in an unusual situation. They aren’t in a position to send anyone to the minors to make room for a call up because all of the players they have on their NHL roster are eligible for waivers. On top of that, putting Letang or defenseman Christian Ehrhoff (upper body) on the long-term injured reserve list to free up some cap space isn’t an option because there’s less than 10 games remaining on their schedule.

As a result, Pittsburgh will dress five defensemen for tonight’s game against San Jose. In a pinch, Johnston said he would ask forward Daniel Winnik to “play some defense,” per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dave Molinari.

Pittsburgh will also probably be without forward David Perron for a second straight game due to an illness.

Letang has dealt with more than his fair share of health issues in recent years and unfortunately he does have a concussion history.

If you missed Doan’s hit on Letang, here it is:


NHL on NBCSN: Sharks desperate for wins, Penguins seek definitive end to slump

NHL on NBCSN: Sharks desperate for wins, Penguins seek definitive end to slump


NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign tonight as the Pittsburgh Penguins host the San Jose Sharks at the Consol Energy Center, starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have fallen on hard times and while they did manage to secure a 3-2 win yesterday, it was against the lowly Coyotes. If you exclude games against Arizona, Pittsburgh hasn’t won since March 12.

“We‘re playing so bad right now, it’s true,” Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin said before the start of the Coyotes’ game, per the team’s website. “Not just one guy, it’s the whole team. The last game (Pittsburgh’s 5-2 loss to Carolina on Thursday), I think it’s the worst game of the whole season. It’s not fun to watch.”

Regardless of the opponent, a win’s a win, but tonight’s game against the San Jose Sharks will be a much bigger test. The Sharks are six points behind in the playoff race with seven contests remaining, so the chances of them making the playoffs are slim, but they’re coming off back-to-back wins as they desperately try to stay in the race.

“Every win is rewarding, especially right now,” Sharks forward Joe Pavelski told CSN Bay Area. “We’re fighting and playing for wins.”

Adding to the challenge for both teams is the fact that they’re playing with depleted defenses. The San Jose Sharks lost blueliner Mirco Mueller (hand) on Thursday and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (lower body) on Saturday. Defenseman Scott Hannan sustained a cut under his eye during Saturday’s game, but he still might end up playing tonight.

On Pittsburgh’s side, defenseman Christian Ehrhoff is out with an upper-body injury while Kris Letang was hospitalized on Saturday following a hit by Shane Doan:

With a 41-23-11 record, the Penguins are tied with the New York Islanders in terms of points in the battle for the second seed in the Metropolitan Division and the first round home-ice advantage that comes with it. Pittsburgh has played in one less game than the Islanders, so they have a bit of an edge in that respect. At the same time Pittsburgh is only three points ahead of the Wild Card seed Washington Capitals, so if the Penguins’ struggles continue, they could slip significantly in the standings.

Doan on Letang: ‘You feel awful as a player when something like that happens’


According to Josh Yohe, Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang will remain in hospital overnight for observation.

Letang was hit by Arizona Coyotes captain Shane Doan late in the second period Saturday afternoon and needed assistance leaving the ice.

Doan, who didn’t receive a penalty on the play, said he was trying to finish his check on Letang.

“It’s awful. When it happened, I could tell the way he went into the boards… awkward. It’s just one of those… he’s so good, we talk about it, we’ve got to make sure he doesn’t jump by,” said Doan. “I just went to make sure I got a piece of him so he couldn’t jump by me. He obviously went into the boards awkwardly.

“We have to finish our checks on him. I didn’t mean to hit him in that… you know hit him to stop him from jumping by. You never ever want to see a guy like that, especially of his caliber. Obviously everything that he’s went through the last couple years, you never want to see that so you feel awful as a player when something like that happens.”

Needless to say the Penguins were not happy with the hit.

Steve Downie, who scored his 14th of the season in the win, dropped the gloves with Doan moments after the hit.

“That’s part of the game,” said Doan of Downie challenging him. “He’s such a character guy on their team, he’s a big part of their team, he scored the goal to make it 2-1 as well. That says a lot about him. That’s the type of guy you want on your team that stands up for your teammates, goes through the wall for his teammates. You hope that they do that for him too. That’s the way teams work. Obviously it’s a testament to his character.”

Video: Letang hospitalized after Doan hit (Update)


Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang immediately headed for the locker room following a painful hit by Arizona Coyotes captain Shane Doan on Saturday.

The latest update is a disturbing one: Letang is undergoing evaluations at a hospital and the team doesn’t anticipate more news until Sunday.

Here’s a look at the hit:

That moment is already generating plenty of debate about Doan’s hit. Some think it was quite late:

Doan was not penalized on the play. Steve Downie fought him later on in the period because of that check. As Shelly Anderson notes, there isn’t an update regarding Letang’s condition just yet.

Considering Letang’s history with concussions and other injuries, this is certainly a concern for a Penguins team that was just getting healthier.

Update: The Penguins won 3-2, but Letang did not return to the game.

Asst. GM Guerin admits Penguins need to lay off the refs


Sportsnet host Doug MacLean didn’t tip-toe around the issue when Penguins assistant GM Bill Guerin appeared on Hockey Central today.

“Your team whines quite a bit,” MacLean said. “It’s hurt you at times in key situations, and I think it’s hurt you at playoff time.”

Care to respond?

To his credit, Guerin didn’t fight the notion, conceding it’s “definitely an area that we’ve identified as being an issue at times. …  The referees are out there, they do a fantastic job, the game’s faster than ever, and it’s really hard to pick things up sometimes with just the naked eye. … We just have to flat-out be better.”

Guerin isn’t the first member of the organization to admit the Penguins have a PR problem when it comes to the officials.

“I think [compared] to a few years ago I think we’ve been better, but it’s the way that people see us,” d-man Kris Letang said earlier this week, per the Post-Gazette. “They think we’re always all over the referees. We need to get better at that. Even better than what we did this year. We have to control what we can control and not worry about those things.”

Letang, of course, was ejected Sunday in Detroit for unsportsmanlike conduct towards the referees. Teammates Steve Downie and Chris Kunitz also received 10-minute misconducts in that contest. In fact, Downie took two.

“That can’t happen this time of year. We have to correct that,” captain Sidney Crosby said afterward.

“It’s an emotional game. As individuals, we’ve all been there at certain points and done certain things. But when it does happen, it’s usually one guy who gets a little too intense or that kind of thing. But today, it was too many. We can’t let that happen.”

Of course, the Penguins already had a well-earned reputation for losing their composure, making what happened during Sunday’s nationally televised game even more of a hot topic.

We’ll see if they can keep it together in the playoffs.