Pens' Letang is staying fresh in brutal stretch
Kris Letang, like many notable Penguins, did not practice Wednesday, which is not to suggest he took the day off.
Trainers treated a few of his bruises that come with playing defense in the NHL. Letang also studied video of his latest gem of a performance — an assist, a plus-3 rating, two hits and a blocked shot in the 25 minutes, 48 seconds he played Tuesday night in a 4-2 win over Florida.
However, most important Wednesday, Letang had his legs stretched and massaged.
The regular season is only a week old and Letang is just 24, but keeping him fresh is a priority for coach Dan Bylsma, as the Penguins continue a wicked October schedule.
"Typically, at the beginning of the year, you're still getting work in, (but) we've got 13 games with very little practice time," Bylsma said. "Rest and practice time is more like you'd see at the end of the year right now."
Letang, considered by some a Norris Trophy favorite this season, has clearly established himself as the Penguins' No. 1 defenseman. Working on the left side because of Brooks Orpik's abdominal injury, his six points lead the club, as does his average ice time of 26:48.
That average is nearly two minutes too much.
"I think around 25 is a good number," Letang said. "It allows you to stay fresh all game."
To stay fresh between games, Letang has maintained a "healthy diet." He has eliminated unnecessary sugars and is eating more fish than at any point in his life.
He produced only nine points after Jan. 12 last season, a finish as frustrating as the start that earned him a first All-Star Game selection was strong.
That recent history might convince a player to steady his pace in the new season's opening months.
"When you're tired, you have to learn when it's time to make a safe play, like going off the wall instead of trying to do too much," he said. "But I don't want to conserve. I never want to manage my energy."
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