Kris Letang’s injury ‘a little more complicated than day-to-day’

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Kris Letang last played for the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 21 when he logged 28 minutes of ice time in a 3-1 win.

He has been sidelined for the four games since with an undisclosed upper body injury. The Penguins really haven’t said what exactly is wrong with him or given much of a timetable for his return, but coach Mike Sullivan said on Saturday that it is “a little more complicated than day-to-day,” and that they are hoping it is not a long-term injury.

That does not sound promising for his chances of returning to the lineup on Sunday evening when the team plays the Buffalo Sabres.

Injuries have been a constant struggle for Letang throughout his career, and having already missed more than 20 games this season it will be the fourth time in the past six years he will have failed to play in at least 60 games in a season (though, one of those seasons was the lockout shortened 2012-13 season).

When he is on the ice, however, he was one of the Penguins’ best and most impactful players. In 41 games this season he has five goals, 24 assists and a 53 percent Corsi. In the 10 games prior to the injury he had recorded 11 points.

His absence right now comes at a time when the team is also without Olli Maatta and Trevor Daley on its blue line. Maatta and Daley are both expected to miss the remainder of the regular season.

Those injuries forced general manager Jim Rutherford to complete a few trades before the trade deadline to pick up Ron Hainsey from Carolina, Mark Streit from Tampa Bay, and Frankie Corrado from Toronto to add some depth to the position. Streit ended up scoring the game-winning goal for the Penguins in his debut with the team on Friday night against the Lightning.

If they can ever get all of their defensemen healthy, or at least one or two of the current injured ones, they would have a pretty solid blue line to work with.