Cole's gone but Letang is back

Last year the Penguins did the unthinkable, they won the Stanley Cup without Kris Letang. This year, their star defenseman is heating up at the right time.

Letang is a plus-9 over his last ten games. He's tallied 3 goals and 9 points over that stretch while averaging over 26 minutes a game. In overtime against Calgary, while at top speed, he skated 200 feet into the offensive zone then promptly skated 200 feet back the other way to break up a scoring chance. He's back. 

Against the Flames, Letang was one of only two Penguins' players to play over twenty minutes at even strength. He finished having played 26:44. 

Do you miss Ian Cole? Sure you do. He's a good player. But would you rather have last years set of circumstances or this years? Easy. You'd want to have Kris Letang. 

In the playoffs, Mike Sullivan is going to play the top four defenseman a bunch. Both Chicago and Nashville have relied heavily on their top four defenseman in recent years. The Penguins will follow suit. 

Here's betting that if the Penguins win the Stanley Cup this year, Kris Letang will have been a big reason why. 

Other crap:

--Tristan Jarry stopped 35 of 38 shots. He’s bounced back from a couple of shaky performances. He had 12 saves in the third period alone where the Flames kept coming.

--The Penguins gave up 38 shots for the third time in the last four games. Mike Sullivan said, “We found a way to win, but I’m not going to sit here and say we played a real good game.” That’s not going to be good enough to win against the Flyers on Wednesday.

--The Flames had possession 58 percent of the time in 5-on-5 play. Not good enough.

--Simon/Brassard/Kessel generated a positive shot differential. Brassard came back HARD on a back-check late in the game. He will only continue to get better as he gets more comfortable in the Penguins’ system.

--Why are the Penguins HAWT? If I had to boil it down to one reason…it’s Geno Malkin. He’s got 44 points in his last 25 games. The Penguins are 18-6-1 in such contests. He’s the best player in hockey right now.

Image Courtesy of Getty Images

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