Kristopher Letang looks like a man with something to prove. Last night’s 2 goal, 3 point effort may have been his way of letting the league know that he’s back.
His game-winning goal cemented his legacy as one of the best defensemen to ever play for the Penguins, tying him with Paul Coffey for the most points by a defenseman in Penguins history. Unfortunately, Letang has struggled with injuries throughout his career only playing 297 regular season games in the last 5 seasons. For those of you who don’t want to do the math, that’s a combined 113 games missed without including all the playoff games he’s missed in that time.
When healthy, Letang is one of the best defensemen in the league. His 0.77 points per game over the last 5 years ranks him 3rd among defensemen. However, due to his time missed, he’s slowly been forgotten about in the talk for the best defensemen in the game. With a smooth skating stride and slick hands, he’s quietly been very productive for the Pens.
Letang drives the play up the ice and gives opposing teams nightmares with his playmaking ability. These skills are what allowed him to finish last season with the 5th most possession time among defensemen and 7th most offensive zone possession time. When Letang has the puck he has a nose for the high danger areas. Last year he ranked 6th in shots by a defenseman but he’s also a good passer. He finished the season 5th among defensemen in passes to the slot. His offensive talent paired with Malkin and Crosby on any given night is what gives opposing teams nightmares.
That talent was on full display last night when he led all players in puck possession time and had more passes to the slot than any other defensemen.
When Letang is healthy, he’s one of the top blueliners in the game. His dominant performance last night could be a warning to the rest of the league. Letang is back and he’s as hungry as ever for his first ever Norris Trophy.