Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Penguins vs Panthers 3-27-11

Penguins Practice 3-29-11

Brief snippet about Letang

Letang welcomes Orpik

It was pretty obvious that the Penguins were happy to have defenseman Brooks Orpik, who had missed 13 games because of a broken finger, back in the lineup for their 2-1 shootout victory Sunday against Florida.

Odds are Kris Letang was more pleased about it than any of his teammates, though.

He and Orpik are defense partners, and Orpik's stay-at-home style gives Letang the latitude to get involved in the offense.

"We read each other really well," Letang said. "He talks a lot on the ice, so that helps me."


Ice Time cover

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Quote about Kris

"Letang is looking quite sharp tonight. He just pounced on a centering pass in the blue paint and quickly cleared it out of the Pens zone"

From the Pens website about Kris playing tonight in the game against the Flyers.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Game-Day: Kris Letang (3/21/11)

Blackberry NHL All Access pregame show spotlight on Kris Letang (Thanks 58 Reasons)

Pictures from the Pens today's practice in Detroit. 3/21/11 (Pens website)

From the Pens website today 3/21/11

Kris Letang

On how they refocus for today’s game:
I think we played well five-on-five (Sunday). We got undisciplined, it cost us the game. But I think overall, we were satisfied with our game five-on-five. You just have to forget about it, especially that we were up 2-1 and ended up losing 5-2. So you just regroup, talk about the other team and make sure you get ready for them.

On how the defense prepares for an offense that will be without Pavel Datysuk and Johan Franzen:
The same way. They have other powerful guys out there. (Henrik) Zetterberg, they have Bertuzzi, who’s having a great year. (Valtteri) Filppula, all those guys are still really dangerous. So we prepare the same way, you try to deny them scoring goals.

On their familiarity with each other over the past few years helping them prepare:
Obviously we know a lot about them from the two finals we played against them. They’re always really dangerous, especially with their back end. They can score goals.

On Niklas Kronwall saying that the two teams play a similar style of hockey:
We’re a little different. But obviously we want to manage the puck in the offensive zone. We try to keep the puck in there as long as we can like they do.

03/20/2011 - Kris Letang pregame Interview NBC

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cool pic of Tanger on the ice

Kris Letang NBC interview (Thanks for "58 Reasons for the link)

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Game of the Week preview: Should the Penguins be worried about Kris Letang’s struggles?


Thanks to some great work by head coach Dan Bylsma – and a roster full of hustling, hardworking players – the Pittsburgh Penguins remain competitive without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Yet if there’s one player who hit a wall without those two superstars, it is defenseman Kris Letang.

Whether you blame his struggles on the absence of those two forwards or the wear and tear that comes from playing big minutes in the post-Sergei Gonchar days, there’s little doubt that Letang is running out of steam. He began the season on a torrid pace, scoring 41 points in 50 games, but now he only has five points in his last 21. Things have been especially troubling lately, though, as he only has one assist and zero goals in his last 12 games.

His struggles aren’t limited to the offensive end, either. After producing positive plus minus ratings in every month through the All-Star Game, Letang sported an ugly -9 in February and holds a -1 with zero points in seven March games.

It would be hasty to wonder if Letang’s hot start was just a mirage, especially considering the drop in quality supporting cast members around him. Along with losing Crosby and Malkin – which surely hurts his power play numbers – Letang also has been without the safety net provided by defenseman Brooks Orpik and the one-two offensive punch provided by fellow scoring blueliner Alex Goligoski. Orpik has been injured while Goligoski is no longer on the team’s roster thanks to the James Neal trade.

A Penguins fan asked Pittsburgh Post-Gazette beat reporter Dave Molinari about Letang’s issues, leading to this response.

While it’s painfully obvious that Letang’s play has slipped – he has one point, an assist, in his past 12 games and recently went 10 in a row without recording a positive plus-minus rating – his exceptional play during the early months of the season makes his slump seem even worse than it is. Whether it was realistic to expect a 23-year-old playing the toughest position in the game to remain at the rarefied level he so often reached during the first half of the season is open to debate, but his play into January certainly raised the bar of expectations.

Whether Letang really believed that it was his responsibility to fill the offensive void created by the loss of Crosby and Malkin isn’t known, but the reality is that there aren’t many defensemen shy of Bobby Orr and Paul Coffey in their primes who could even think of putting up enough points to do that. And if Letang did feel that way, he surely should have realized long ago that it wasn’t working the way he hoped.

That Letang has lost his swagger, as you put it, shouldn’t surprise anyone, because even the most accomplished player’s confidence suffers when he slips into a significant slump. It’s tough to be assertive when you’re doubting your abilities. The good news in that regard is, once Letang gets his game back in sync – and that will happen at some point, although there’s no guarantee it will be this season – his swagger will come back, too.

Overall, the Penguins shouldn’t be worried about Letang in the long term, but it’s tough to avoid speculation that he might struggle during the remainder of this season and the playoffs. Of course, that could all change if a well-rested Crosby finds his way back into the lineup.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Video about Kris Letang from the Pittsburgh Penguins website

Short Article about Letang being hit 3-17-11

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- As Penguins center Sidney Crosby was taking the ice Monday as a step in his long recovery from a concussion, teammate Kris Letang was being tested for the same injury.

Letang took a leveling shot to the chin from Edmonton's Gilbert Brule in a 5-1 win Sunday. General manager Ray Shero confirmed Wednesday at the league GM meetings, that the day after that hit, Letang took a neurological test to be compared with an earlier baseline test. He passed and then played in a 5-1 win Tuesday at Ottawa.

The NHL has a protocol for players suspected of having a concussion, and an even more rigorous version of that protocol takes effect this week.

Crosby, who has been out since Jan. 6, skated Monday and Tuesday. He did not skate Wednesday, but that might have been because the team was given the day off.

A team official had no information about whether Crosby had experienced any concussion-related symptoms after his session Tuesday and suggested that Crosby wouldn't necessarily skate Wednesday, regardless of how his time on the ice went.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Short article about Letang being hit during the Penguins/Oilers game in March 2011


Plus "58 Reasons" from facebook posted this short article too so I have to give them credit!

Old-school solution

Sounds like Penguins defenseman Kris Letang might be planning to respond to the hit he got from Edmonton's Gilbert Brule Sunday in the old-fashioned way.

On the ice.

With something other than words.

Brule appeared to catch Letang on the chin when he charged him late in the Penguins' 5-1 victory at Consol Energy Center.

Letang did not play again in that game, and left Monday's practice early.

But after the game-day skate in Ottawa today, Letang laughed when asked for his perspective on Brule's hit, but declined to elaborate.

"I’m not going to comment on that hit," he said. "Everybody has their opinion. I have mine, and that’s it."

Monday, March 14, 2011

Status of Kris Letang from getting hit from yesterdays game against the Oilers

"Kris Letang went to a scheduled appointment to be evaluated by a doctor just as a precautionary (action) from the hit he received last night.

Quote by Dan Bylsma

Kris Letang pic spam

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My Friend Dee made this so its hers!!!! Enjoy

Penguins vs Oilers 3-13-11

All his fans are hoping that he will be ok after he was hit in today's game!!!

Kris playing against the Montreal Canadians 3-12-11

Kool Letang shirt


March 12, 2011 - Kris Letang FSN Faceoff Pregame

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tanger 3-11-11

Kris Letang interview from after today's practice.

On how to try to win and keep up their pace:
There’s a race right now for the No. 1 seed. I think we’re right there. We’re playing well right now, we have confidence. But I think it’s a great opportunity to face Montreal and Edmonton this weekend. We just need to get pucks in the net.

On if he feels the momentum building and if they’re building confidence:
Yeah, obviously it was tough times losing all those guys, but right now we have to play with what we have in the lineup, and I think everyone’s starting to get a good feel of each other and the new lines, the new guys on D and the new pairings. So everybody’s starting to be a little bit more comfortable and I think that’s the whole reason for our success right now.

On if it’s too early to think about the playoffs:
You want to get ready, every game is really important until the end. Either you want to get up in the standings, or you want to make a push for the playoffs. I think guys have stepped up their game and I think that should make us more into it at the end of the season.

On if there’s any significance to the fact that Montreal eliminated them last year in the playoffs:
We always remember that series, but I think there’s always a little something when we play them. It becomes a little rivalry with them

On the significance for him:
Obviously to play against my hometown, it’s always special. I always want to go in really bad. I think it’s like that every game, but there’s always a little something about Montreal that I want to beat them.

From the Penguins website

Off-Day: Kris Letang (3/11/11)

New article about the some of the French Canadian Pens Players

The French Connection

La connexion fran├žaise – the French connection.

That’s what four players in the Penguins locker room have. And while they’ve all adjusted to American culture at different times and speeds, in the end, they all speak the same language in the Penguins locker room – both literally and figuratively.

Maxime Talbot, Marc-Andre Fleury, Pascal Dupuis and Kris Letang are the Penguins’ four French-Canadian players, all of them hailing from the Canadian province of Quebec.

Fleury, 26, and Talbot, 27, are the two longest-tenured Penguins of that group. They have a history that goes way back, as they both played in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League – albeit with different teams – from 2000-04.

The two were then teammates for Team Canada at the 2004 World Junior Championships before they both broke into the league for good with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League for the 2004-05 campaign.

In retrospect, it couldn’t have worked out better for the two of them to learn on the fly together. They’re now road roommates when the Penguins travel.

“I think it was nice to have Max, a guy that I knew from before,” Fleury said, who hails from Sorel. “It’s a little different with all of the English around, so it was nice to have him there.”

“It was obviously easier to adapt when you have different guys with you that come from the same place,” Talbot said. “You learn things at the same time.”

Dupuis, however, didn’t have quite as smooth a transition when he first came to the U.S.

Dupuis, 31, broke into the league in 2000 after signing a free-agent contract with Minnesota. He spent his first professional season with Cleveland of the International Hockey League, and adjusting to English was a tough transition for the Laval native.

Ever heard of a dish called “Same Thing”? Dupuis sure has. It’s what he ordered at restaurants during his first year in the league, as he didn’t understand the dinner menus when the team went out and felt bad asking for translations.

He chose instead to simply tell the server that he would have the same thing that the person next to him had ordered.

“Guys ordered sushi and stuff like that. My first time eating sushi I thought it was called ‘Same Thing,’” Dupuis joked.

Letang, who is from Montreal, was fortunate enough to have Dupuis, Fleury and Talbot already in the organization before his arrival. They have taken the 23-year-old defenseman under their wing to help him get acclimated, with Fleury even housing Letang for a pair of training camps while he looked for a place of his own.

“I was not that comfortable at the beginning with the language,” Letang said. “I was just really quiet, scared to talk. But coming in, I think Pascal, ‘Flower,’ Max, helped me a lot to get into it. They talked to me, gave me some tips.”

“You try to get the youngest French guy,” Talbot said. “I remember during camp, you take guys like Simon Despres out for supper. He speaks English, but you try to show him around. It’s not so much being French-Canadian. You try to do that with all of the rookies and young guys. You show them around. But especially sometimes when you speak French, it might be even more helpful.”

But they all admit that while it’s nice to have a group of French-Canadians in the Penguins organization, in the end, it doesn’t matter much with the closeness of this Pittsburgh squad.

“I think it’s nice, but I think in Pittsburgh we’ve always had teams that are very close to each other,” Fleury said. “It didn’t matter if you were French, Russian, English. I think everybody just gets along good and we have such a great chemistry, so that it makes it easier. You just come to the rink and it just feels good. It’s all your buddies there. So it’s a big help as a team.”


Kris shooting a promo for the upcoming NHL playoffs

Monday, March 7, 2011

Letang and his jersey


Penguins Notebook: Letang now tied to Rule 47.13

The question of why Kris Letang's sweater wasn't tied down when he fought New Jersey's Travis Zajac this past Friday has been answered.

And it turns out there wasn't much of a mystery about it, after all.

Letang did not have his sweater tied down -- a violation of Rule 47.13, which mandates an automatic game misconduct penalty for offenders -- when the scuffle began because, well, that's something he never did.

Not until the Penguins' 3-2 overtime victory in Boston Saturday night, anyway.

"I just didn't do it," Letang said. "I never have. Usually, the referee doesn't say anything ... unless the jersey would have gone over my head during the fight, then it would have been an advantage, but it just went over when I was going down on the ice."

Zajac pulled Letang's sweater over his head as their fight progressed. It is not known if he was aware before they squared off that Letang did not, as a matter of course, tie down.

The rule was instituted to prevent fighters from shedding their jerseys so that they would be less restrained while throwing punches. That probably wasn't what Letang had in mind, but it is not a mistake he plans to repeat.

"It's tied down inside my pants now," he said.

Penguins Charity Lunch for some special kids at the Consol Arena 3-7-11


Letang getting thrown out of the game because of his jersey issue!!!

Article about Letang and his jersey tie down situation


I happen to see the link on "58 Reasons" on facebook. Thank you guys too.

Letang Mystery Solved

Turns out Penguins defenseman Kris Letang has a pretty logical explanation for why his sweater wasn't tied down when he fought Travis Zajac of New Jersey last Friday.

After the Penguins' 3-2 overtime victory in Boston Saturday night, Letang acknowledged that until Friday night, he never tied down until that incident.

Letang's habit became a problem when Zajac pulled Letang's sweater over his head during their fight, pretty convincing evidence that Letang had violated the tie-down provision in Rule 47.13.

“I just didn’t do it,” Letang said. “I never have. Usually, the referee doesn’t say anything … unless the jersey would have gone over my head during the fight, then it would have been an advantage, but it just went over when I was going down on the ice.”

Letang's infraction calls for an automatic game misconduct, so the Penguins were forced to play most of their 2-1 overtime loss to the Devils with just five defensemen.

Consequently, Letang said, he plans to avoid any future wardrobe malfunctions.

“It’s tied down inside my pants now,” he said.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Picture from the Penguins practice today 3-2-11

Caption from the Penguins website about this picture:
Fleury and Letang chat (right). I wonder if they're speaking French to each other. My guess: Hebrew.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pens Practice 3-1-11

New Article about Letang


Point man: Penguins' Letang a Norris candidate
From junior captain to being likened to Lidstrom, a star on the rise

It was a three-step sequence one sees several times in any hockey game:

1. Defenseman pursues puck in his own end.

2. Forechecker pursues defenseman.

3. Defenseman retrieves puck and sends it back the other way.

No big deal, really.

Except when Kris Letang did it Jan. 15 in Boston.

With the Penguins protecting a 3-2 lead early in the third period, Letang and the Bruins' Brad Marchand skated hard toward the Penguins end for what -- momentarily, anyway -- appeared to be a 50-50 puck. Letang, with his back to Marchand, took his customary bonus stride to gain body position, turned his hips one way, then violently back the other way, then whirled his entire body 180 degrees.

Only to find about half the rink wide open. Marchand, the exasperated forechecker, had simply slogged back to the Bruins' bench.

The play still gets discussed internally.

"Oh, yeah, I remember," said assistant coach Todd Reirden, the man responsible for the team's defense. "It was like he created a whole open sheet of ice for himself."

"Yeah, lots of ice," Letang recalled with a smile. "That's what I like to see, when everything is calm ... making everything calm."

It is largely that trait, the ability to create what hockey coaches call "time and space," that has elevated Letang's game to where he now is a vital part of any debate involving the Norris Trophy, awarded to the NHL's best defenseman.
The player

Although Letang is the Penguins' second-leading scorer with eight goals and 38 assists, and his 46 points rank third among all NHL defensemen, his partner long has been adamant that Letang is not an offensive defenseman.

"What I've meant is that Kris isn't the type to go rushing up ice all by himself and score goals. How many times have you seen him do that?" defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "He's got the skill set to be great defensively. Everything starts with the way he's knocking guys off the puck, the way he's controlling it, the first pass, the ability to carry it ... he's getting it all done, not just putting up points."

There is other proof: Letang's plus-13 rating has no peer among the NHL's top 10 scoring defensemen, with the next highest figure at plus-2.

The coaching staff would have it no other way.

In mid-November, just before the Penguins went on a 12-game winning streak, Reirden suggested in a coaches' meeting that Letang and Orpik get matched up against the opponents' top forward line. It was not without risk: Give an offensive defenseman too much defensive responsibility, and a lot of those points can evaporate.

"This was not just about our short term, but also Kris' long term," Reirden said. "We felt this was the best way to push him to become the best, most complete player he can be. And he wants it. There's no one that I have who spends more time watching video than Kris. He's studying everything."

Perhaps exceeding expectations, Letang embraced the role and, at times, has been a shutdown-type. He rarely is beaten one-on-one and, even when that happens, has ample speed to overcome mistakes. He is aggressive in standing up forwards at the blue line and, near the net, has been surprisingly effective.

"He's mean, too, out in front," former Penguins coach Eddie Johnston said.

The real separator is that time-and-space factor: Once Letang gets the puck, rather than just flicking it off the glass or icing it, he will pause, look around and pass it to a forward. The Penguins' emphasis this season, following the acquisition of other mobile defensemen such as Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek, has been on exactly this type of rapid-fire breakout.

"It's been a challenge, but I enjoy it," Letang said. "This year, I've been put in a lot of positions where I have to be responsible, always aware who I'm playing against. I've always put the defense first, though."

Letang also has a soft touch around the net, best evident, perhaps, by his ability to be one of just three NHL defensemen who takes a regular turn in shootouts, in which he is 3 for 8. That comes in part from his days as a forward -- he converted to defense "just to try something new" before beginning his junior career with Val-d'Or of the Quebec League -- and in part from practicing a wide array of moves.

"I can't really explain that," Letang said. "Mostly, I just try to sell a shot."
The person

Some close to Letang say he always has liked being the man on his team. But that was not about to happen for a newcomer on a roster that included Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and loads of veteran presence.

"You're not going to walk in and be a leader here," Letang said, laughing.

And, really, it was not going to happen on the Penguins' blue line so long as Sergei Gonchar was around. Gonchar was the 35-year-old All-Star, the fixture on the power-play point, the man who led or started most rushes. And Letang, upon his rookie arrival in 2006, needed time to adjust.

That began to change with the 2009 run to the Stanley Cup, in which Letang had 13 playoff points.

"That was when I knew I could go to a new level," he said.

It blossomed fully this season, after the Penguins cut ties with Gonchar.


"It's hard to say. Maybe it did help," Letang said. "I'm on the power play all the time now, and maybe I wouldn't have gotten that chance. But when I think about Gonch, all I think about is how much he helped me. He was a great teammate and great friend, and he taught me so much, especially about the point."

"Sometimes, a player needs to be the guy," goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. "I know Kris liked playing with Gonch, but maybe it was what he needed, to play more, to have more responsibility."

"That's a big part of it, just giving him freedom," left winger Max Talbot said. "But all kinds of things lead to maturity. He's only 23. Sid was mature when he was 18 because he'd been living with that for so long. Kris played in Val-d'Or, a little town in Quebec, and he comes here to a whole new world."

Val-d'Or was another world in the cultural -- all French-speaking -- and hockey senses, but it also had its similarities.

"The first time I saw Kris skating, I said, 'Holy cow, he's like Paul Coffey!' " recalled Eric Lavigne, Letang's junior coach at Val-d'Or, now with Prince Edward Island. "But then, what impressed you the most was that, at the end of practice, he was never, ever tired. He was the first guy on the ice, finished all the drills first, and he was never tired."

The next step up for Letang came with his second trip to the World Junior Championships in 2007, in which he captained Canada's gold-medal team. He was only the second French-Canadian captain in the junior national team's history, perhaps because of the cultural divide.

"I didn't really go there and say I want to be a leader. But I had the NHL experience already, compared to other guys, and I thought maybe that could help," Letang said. He had played seven games with the Penguins before that tournament. "I'm not a guy who jokes around, plays around. And I wanted to show everybody how I thought it should be done right."

The junior world noticed.

"If you were his teammate, you didn't have any choice but to follow him," Lavigne said. "He didn't say much but, when you are beside this guy, you feel his confidence. He grew up a lot there."

Letang has acknowledged growing up, too, with the tragic death of Luc Bourdon, a Vancouver prospect who was his best friend and teammate with Val-d'Or, killed in a motorcycle accident in May 2008.

"It's so tough to me," Letang said at the time, when the Penguins were in the Stanley Cup final. "Even if I wanted to skate, I couldn't ... it's like I lost so much energy."

It is not something Letang discusses anymore, but his teammates have recognized a deep resonance from it: He became even more serious, his English improved, his confidence rose and, now, he might be ready for something else.
The prize

For all the many individual honors the Penguins have won over the years, there has been only one to claim the Norris Trophy: Randy Carlyle in 1981. He was a good, not great defenseman, who contributed to a generally superb power play that year and produced 83 points.

What Letang is doing is different, and that is why he now is mentioned casually in the same sentence as Detroit's brilliant Nicklas Lidstrom.

"To me, it's him and Nick Lidstrom as runaways for the Norris, really," said Boston right winger Mark Recchi, once Letang's teammate with the Penguins. "They play against tough lines all the time. You look around, and the other defensemen with big numbers don't play against those tough lines. Letang and Orpik do that every night."

Count Lidstrom among the admirers, too.

"He's very good with the puck, a good skater, and he competes out there," Detroit's six-time Norris winner said. "He's also very good at reading plays, getting up in the play and moving around, whether it's on the power play at the blue line or being part of the rush. He's a very good defenseman."

Bringing up the Norris in the locker room seems taboo, as coaches and teammates sound loath to do or say anything that changes Letang's fortunes. As Talbot put it: "It's an 82-game season, and you know you need to play really consistently to win that kind of trophy. Why talk about it now?"

Letang is little different.

"Honestly, it's really unbelievable when I hear or read that," he said. "To me, there are so many great defensemen, and Lidstrom is one of the greatest to ever play the game. But you know, I'm really not thinking about that. I just want to be the best I can be."


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