Bad news for the Penguins came down today, as head coach Mike Sullivan told Wes Crosby of NHL.com that Kris Letang would miss “a couple weeks” with a lower body injury. As Crosby notes, the Penguins have eight games over the next two weeks before having the entire first week of January off.
It’s not the first time superstar defenseman has dealt with injury this season, as Letang missed much of October as well. Amazingly, he still has 19 points in 25 games this season which puts him sixth in scoring among defensemen. He was logging over 26 minutes a night before the injury, another mark right alongside the league leaders.
For Pittsburgh, his injury means that Steven Oleksy will likely get back into the lineup and that Trevor Daley will have to take on a bigger role. Already logging the second most icetime on the team, Daley has been a huge part of the 20-7-3 record so far for the Penguins. Perhaps 22-year old Olli Maatta will be forced into a tougher role as well, despite his struggles this year.
The biggest place the Penguins will feel Letang’s absence will be the powerplay, where the quarterback racks up assists distributing the puck to the talented forwards down low. Pittsburgh currently holds the league’s 10th best powerplay, a number that will likely go down without Letang on the blueline.
Not seen as a defensive option very often, Letang does also skate on the penalty kill at times, meaning the 27th ranked Penguins will need to find another body for that special team as well. While Daley has played well this season, pushing his minutes up towards 25 a night would be a risk for the 33-year old.