Penguins Notebook: Letang conditioned to be a marathon man on skates
Defenseman Kris Letang played 23 minutes, 20 seconds Saturday night. Took a couple of shots. Blocked one by Buffalo.
That's a slow night at the office for Letang this season.
His ice time in the Penguins' 3-2 loss to the Sabres dropped his average to 26:26, still highest on his team and among the leaders in the NHL. He is averaging 27.5 shifts per contest.
"I think every player wants to spend the most minutes [he can] on the ice," Letang said. "It's always rewarding that your coach likes to put you out there.
"I put a lot of emphasis on having good [cardiovascular health] and being able to go for a long time."
Letang, 24, who undergoes a torturous offseason workout regimen, averaged 24:02 of ice time and 25.5 shifts a game last season, when he was a Norris Trophy candidate.
His elevated numbers early this season are all the more noteworthy because the Penguins have a jam-packed schedule this month, having already played six games in the first 11 days with consecutive games tonight at Winnipeg and Tuesday at Minnesota.
"It's a lot, but sometimes there are situations in a game where you don't get as tired as some other games," Letang said. "Some games I'm going to play 23 minutes and I'm going to be really tired. Some games I'm going to play 28 minutes and not feel as tired.
"I'm working hard to be able to play a lot."
His extra ice time so far hasn't diminished his other numbers.
He has a goal and five assists, giving him a share of the lead among NHL defensemen with six points after Saturday's games. He leads the team with 11 blocked shots and is tied for the team lead with 12 hits. He has a plus-minus rating of plus-3.
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