Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Friday, February 17, 2012

Article about Kris from the Post Gazette

Norris Trophy as top defenseman soon will come Letang's way

The Tampa Bay Lightning played at Consol Energy Center April 27 and beat the Penguins, 1-0, in Game 7 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series. I remember walking out of the grand building thinking Penguins defenseman Kris Letang played a lousy game to complete a lousy series in a lousy second half of the NHL season.

The Lightning was back in town Sunday night for the first time since that frustrating game and took a 4-2 beating from the Penguins. I walked into the cold, snow and ice thinking that, if Letang keeps playing this well, the Penguins are going to have a much deeper playoff run this spring.

I mean, really.

How good has Letang become?

I know he was a legitimate Norris Trophy candidate midway through last season when he had six goals and 30 assists after 41 games. But his game suffered badly after Sidney Crosby went out for the season in early January with concussion-like symptoms and then when Evgeni Malkin was lost for the season in early February with a knee injury. He had just two goals in the final 41 games, none in the final 25. He didn't score a goal in the series against the Lightning.

But this February, Letang's game is soaring in the other direction. He had a goal and two assists Sunday night to complete a three-goal, three-assist weekend. In his 11 games since he returned to the lineup after missing 21 games with a concussion, he has five goals and five assists. Not coincidentally, the Penguins went 8-2-1.

Here's one final stat for you:

Letang's eight goals in 33 games match his season total in 82 games last season.

"He's letting it come to him," said Brooks Orpik, Letang's defensive partner. "When he goes looking for [offense], that's when he takes himself out of position and gets in trouble. He's so good that stuff is going to come to him."

Letang was huge against the Lightning in the second period, which Penguins coach Dan Bylsma called "maybe our best period of the season." The Penguins turned a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead with goals by Chris Kunitz, Letang and, of course, Malkin. "We really tilted the ice," Bylsma said. "We forced the issue with speed."

Speed is the best part of Letang's game. Bylsma mentioned his first of two goals in an 8-5 victory Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets. Letang blew down the right wing and took a great pass from Malkin before firing a shot past goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.

"Sid and [Malkin] do things that make the other players say, 'How did they do that?' " Bylsma said. "Kris does that with his skating. Very few players have the ability to turn heads that way."

Letang deflected all praise to Malkin, who also scored the Penguins' first goal and has 17 in the past 17 games.

"He's carrying us right now. He's making everyone better."

Letang's humility is nice, but he also is doing a lot of the heavy lifting. In addition to his goal, he had nice assists on Malkin's first goal -- on the power play -- and on Kunitz's goal. He had a goal disallowed when teammate Richard Park was called for bumping into Lightning goaltender Mathieu Garon. He also saved a goal when the puck snuck behind Penguins goalie Brent Johnson on a shot by forward Steve Downie, sweeping it away just before it crossed the goal line.

"Johnnie thanked him for that one," Bylsma said, grinning.

Bylsma switched his defensive pairings late in the first period after the Lightning took a 2-0 lead. He broke up Zbynek Michalek and Paul Martin and Matt Niskanen and Deryk Engelland, putting Michalek with Niskanen and Engelland with Martin. But he didn't touch the Letang-Orpik pairing.

There's no sense in breaking up a good thing.

"We're two completely different guys," Letang said. "I like to skate and join the rush and be a part of the offense. Brooksie likes to hit hard and make the opponent have a rough night. He's a great player to play with."

Said Orpik, "We complement each other really well. We've been through a lot together. We've learned each other's tendencies. He's easy to read. We don't have to communicate so much to know what each of us is going to do."

Letang and Orpik did their part to keep Tampa Bay's best offensive players -- Steven Stamkos, Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis -- off the score sheet.

That's just a little more proof of how Letang, still only 24, is becoming a great defenseman in front of our eyes.

Here's a safe prediction:

One day, that Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman will be his.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Post Game: Kris Letang (2/12/12) Kris Letang talks to the media following the 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Article about Kris thanks to the Pens website

Letang's Offense Takes Off

After this weekend, it’s easy to see just how invaluable Kris Letang is to this Penguins squad.

It’s impressive enough for a defenseman to compile three goals and six points in
two games, which is exactly what Letang did. But it’s even more impressive when you factor in that Letang produced such offense while being tasked with shutting down the oppositions’ top players.

“I think he’s growing up a lot as a player,” fellow defenseman Zbynek Michalek said of the 24-year-old blueliner. “He’s playing a big role for us, playing against other teams’ top lines and still producing so many points offensively. It’s really impressive.”

The two-time All-Star defenseman shadowed Winnipeg’s leading goal scorer Evander Kane on Saturday, holding him pointless with just one shot on goal while putting together his first two-goal game of the season, adding an assist and finishing with a plus-3 rating in Pittsburgh’s 8-5 win.

On Sunday, Letang and defensive partner Brooks Orpik were assigned to contain the NHL’s leading goal scorer Steven Stamkos and his line – and Letang helped do just that. Stamkos’ stat line was full of zeros and, like Kane, he had just one shot on goal while Letang scored three points (1G-2A) of his own in the Penguins’ 4-2 victory.

Letang says that focusing first and foremost on his defensive responsibilities is what allows him to contribute on the other end of the ice.

“When you defend well against these guys, these guys love to take chances,” Letang said. “They don’t really pay attention to their defensive part of the game. It’s easy for me to jump in the rush and try to bring some offense like that.”

But if you ask forward Chris Kunitz, it’s also Letang’s incredible skating ability that paves the way for him to be the team’s best offensive defenseman.

“He can jump on the play, but also get back and have a great stick and not let those guys get the space to be able to make the shot,” Kunitz said. “It’s great to have him out there and playing well. It’s great to see.”

Sunday marked Letang’s 11th game back since missing 21 straight contests with a concussion. Before he went down, Letang played on the team’s top defensive pairing with Orpik and led the team in ice time on a regular basis.

He didn’t miss a beat upon his return, assuming his usual role right away. And while the points are starting to come for him, Letang says he isn’t doing anything different – his success is coming as a result of the team’s.

“I just think the team is playing well,” he said. “(Evgeni Malkin)’s line is passing the puck really well. The power play is scoring at least a goal almost every night. Points come this way, but I think the most important part is the way we defend and the way Brooksy has been playing with me. It helps me a lot.”


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Letang scores the first time against the Jets 2-11-12 (he also scored a 2nd goal in the third period too)

New pics of Kris!!! ENJOY :)

Thanks to "58 Reasons" on facebook for finding this article about Kristopher

Underrated All-Star

Could it be that Kris Letang is flying under the radar a little bit – right here in Pittsburgh? Let me explain the question. In the Penguins’ dressing room, among the coaches and in the front office, they know exactly what they have in the 24-year-old Montreal native.

Letang is an incredibly strong skater, an underrated hitter, an athletic defenseman with very good hands, great stamina and good vision.

When his previous contract expired, they gave Letang a raise of more than 500 percent. After he missed 21 games with a concussion, Dan Bylsma “eased” him back into the lineup last month with a team-high 24 minutes of ice time in New York against the Rangers, then the best club in the NHL. He had an assist, saved a goal by diving to get his stick on a shot headed for an empty net and had three hits in a 4-1 victory.

The next game, at home against Montreal, he came out of nowhere to chase down Tomas Plekanec on a breakaway, more evidence of how Letang can take chances and play hunches in the offensive and neutral zones because he knows he can get back in a hurry if necessary.

Many of us reacted by pointing out how important Letang’s return will be for a Pittsburgh team that has been smacked by one serious injury after another now for the better part of the last 24 months. We talked about how great he looked in that first game back. We talked about how he’ll help the power play. Puck retrievals. Counter-attacks. The hockey fans in Pittsburgh appreciate everything Letang brings to the table. In short, we know this guy is a good hockey player.

But do we really understand how good?

I got to thinking about this when Letang was named to the NHL All-Star Game as an injury replacement for Dustin Byfuglien just four days after Letang’s return from a concussion and after playing just 25 games. Reaching the All-Star Game after playing barely a quarter of a season is no easy task – whether you get there because someone else gets hurt or not.

The NHL could very easily have chosen Dan Boyle, a top-10 scorer among defensemen who is a creative force on a very good San Jose team, or Duncan Keith of Chicago. The rosters were already lopsided with Eastern Conference defensemen.

They chose Letang. With 23 points in 26 games at the break, Letang was producing offensively at a pace barely exceeded by only one player: Erik Karlsson of Ottawa, who led all defensemen in scoring. In fact, before Max Pacioretty’s hit knocked him out of the lineup, Letang was on pace to reach 69 points this season – more than any defenseman reached last season. And, yes, he’s been solid in his own end, too.

When captain Daniel Alfredsson and his co-captain, Henrik Lundqvist, were drafting their All-Star team, they made Letang the third defenseman taken and the highest replacement player taken, commenting on what his speed would mean to the team. Even his peers talk about it.

No, Letang is not perfect. He still makes a few turnovers that leave you scratching your head. And he’s still learning how to be a more consistent force on the power play. But he’s playing a ton of minutes (26:09 per game at the break, sixth in the NHL and two minutes more per game than he saw last year) and producing points at a clip that would suggest he’s learned from his second-half slump last season.

That slump roughly paralleled the absence of Sidney Crosby, with whom Letang shares an unmistakable chemistry, but he’s only played four games with Crosby this season and was still dangerously close to being a point-per-game defenseman – rarified air for a blueliner.

If you consider how much more dangerous Letang will be when Crosby returns, and the fact Letang has not yet reached his prime, you might come to the conclusion that he’s a better player than even we’re giving him credit for, and that many more All-Star Game appearances—and perhaps Norris Trophy consideration someday—are on the horizon.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Copy and paste this link to listen to Kris in a French interivew!!! :)



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