The Pittsburgh Penguins are on their first real losing streak of the season (three games) and are now going to be without their No. 1 defenseman for at least at least a couple of weeks after the team announced on Monday morning that Kris Letang has been placed on injured reserve.
Coach Mike Sullivan announced that Letang will be out on a week-to-week basis with what is being called a “lower-body injury.”
Along with the move to put Letang on injured reserve, the Penguins recalled forward Jake Guentzel and defenseman Chad Ruhwedel from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League.
Letang was injured during the Penguins’ 6-4 loss in Detroit over the weekend, playing only 2:06 before exiting the game with an apparent leg injury.
Injuries have been a constant problem for Letang in his career and have allowed him to play in more than 70 games just once since 2010, and it usually has a pretty significant impact on the team when he is out.
While Sidney Crosby is the Penguins’ best player, there is an argument to be made that Letang is their most important, the one player they cannot afford to lose given the minutes he plays, the impact he has on the game in all three zones, and the fact he is probably on any given night on one of the five best all-around defensemen in hockey.
There is a pretty drastic change to their offense when Letang is out of the lineup. Entering this season the Penguins averaged 3.16 goals per game over the previous six seasons with Letang in the lineup (while winning more than 64 percent of their games), versus only 2.73 (and only winning 54 percent of their games) when he has been out of the lineup.
In the 12 games Letang has missed this season, the Pens have averaged 3.06 goals, compared to 3.60 in the 30 games he has played.
The Penguins host the Washington Capitals, winners of nine in a row, on Monday night.