Penguins Notes: Inconsistent defense, .01 percent of Kris Letang, Therrien

pens camp 112

The Penguins’ current defense probably doesn’t strike fear in the hearts of well, anyone. Thursday’s game was all too reminiscent of games in the past couple springs. Lots of scoring, shabby defense, overwhelmed goalies.

A common story line in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review the past few days has been about how the Penguins aren’t the same team they were before the Olympics break and how expectations should be lowered.

Did anyone watch the Pens in late January and early February? The Pens surrendered four goals or more in five of 12 January contests.

Pittsburgh’s defensive effort was bad but don’t be fooled by newspapers into thinking that it suddenly stinks. The defense hasn’t been very good — or perhaps more accurately, consistent — since the turn of the calendar year.


Douglass Murray was called for interference on Brian Gibbons in the third period Thursday.
Said ROOT’s Bob Errey, “I guess Gibbons is okay, you never get any kind of reaction from him, positive or negative. But he seems to be a little shaken up … I mean he doesn’t give you much.”

Murray blew Gibbons up and absolutely no reaction from Gibbons. The winger might not be one of the Pens’ better players, but he rates highly on the “fun to watch” scale.


Canadiens coach Michel Therrien is another one I could watch all day. Therrien benched the reigning Norris Trophy winner, P.K. Subban for the entire overtime because of Subban’s giveaway leading to a short-handed Brandon Sutter goal (and for whatever other reasons Therrien had). Therrien isn’t afraid to let anyone know that he’s the coach. Another Habs doghouse dweller, David Desharnais, scored the game-deciding shootout goal and has played well since re-gaining Therrien’s trust.

Therrien’s barking at the refs bought him a five-minute power play in the third period, too. Say what you want but the man knows how to work a crowd.


Any season the Penguins have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin both healthy, the organization is in it to win it. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. That said, managing expectations is a good way to take the heat off a team which has had its share of postseason shortcomings.


In case you missed Mario Lemieux’s Pee-Wee scoring exploits, here’s one of his seasons, courtesy of ROOT Sports in Pittsburgh.



Crosby has played in more games (59) in 2013-14 than he did in the last two seasons combined. The Art Ross and Hart trophies are his to lose.


I’d like someone to ask Kris Letang what side and where in his brain he suffered his blood clot. That would go a long way toward determining what long-term effects he might have to deal with. I haven’t heard anyone ask those questions yet.

I’d also like to know how long he was on the floor of his bedroom before his wife found him. Could he speak, could he see? Apparently he suffered some sort of paralysis, since he couldn’t move — or is that a too great of an assumption? How long did the episode approximately last?

Letang mentioned that he’s still dealing with some of the same symptoms he felt prior to his stroke. That’s not necessarily a good thing. The hole in his heart (the “PFO”) is something that can be stitched up and remedied with a fairly common procedure. His media scrum, however, leads me to believe that his docs are unsure whether the hole in his heart was the entire cause of stroke.


I almost cried when I heard Letang say he was among the .01 percent to have a stroke. That’s exactly the way I felt. I was too young to stroke and the type of stroke I suffered is rare. I like to jokingly say I bucked the odds when I had my stroke.

From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Telling his family that he had a stroke was the hardest part, Letang said.

“My family is still worried,” he said. “That was the difficult part, when you see your mom crying and your wife (crying).”

Letang said he has been spending more time with his 1-year-old son and his family.

Dealing with the realization that he had a stroke at 26 has been as difficult for Letang as the physical setbacks.

“It’s been, mentally, very tough,” he said. “It’s tough to believe. I’m in the .01 percentage. When I found out, I didn’t believe it. I didn’t even understand the word.

“I had to call my wife and ask her what it was. She went to school in English.”

For a month or so after my stroke, I had to crawl up and down my steps to the second floor, I couldn’t stand walking up steps. Every stroke is different, however, and I know how fortunate I was not to suffer any paralysis.

Kris Letang:

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Pens writer, Shelly Anderson, also suffered a stroke in the last couple years. Perhaps she’ll write something about her experiences, perhaps not.


One of the best things about the Pens returning to action Thursday was listening to Mike Lange on the radio for a bit.


Team Notes:

Despite the shootout loss, the Penguins extended their unbeaten streak to 4 games (2-0-2).

The Penguins lost in a shootout for the 2nd straight home game. It’s only the 2nd time all season the Penguins have gone back-to-back home games without a win (Oct. 21 and 25 was the other; 0-2).

This also marks the first time the Penguins have gone 2 straight games without a win since Nov. 23-25 (0-1-1).

Pittsburgh finished 2-for-5 on the power play. The Penguins have scored at least once on the man-advantage in 4 straight games (6-for-16). The Penguins’ power play has scored 2 goals in each of the last 2 games.

Player Notes:

Sidney Crosby notched 2 points (1G-1A), extending his point streak to 3 games (2G-3A). Crosby now has a NHL-leading 80 points (29G-51A) – 13 more than second-place Ryan Getzlaf of Anaheim.

Crosby notched his 9th power play goal of the season. He now has 29 power play points (9G-20A) second to only Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals (32).

Olli Maatta’s power-play goal was his second of the year. Maatta’s 7 goals this season are the 2nd-most ever by a Penguins rookie D-man behind only Zarley Zalapski’s 12 in 1988-89.

Since Jan. 15, Maatta has recorded 11 points (4G-7A). Only 2012 Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson of Ottawa has more (12 points).

Jussi Jokinen’s assist marked the 400th point of his career. He has 20 points (7G-13A) in his last 20 games and 6 assists in last 6 games.

James Neal scored the first goal for the Penguins, notching his 300th NHL point in the process. Neal’s 2 points (1G-1A) tonight extended his point streak to 6 games (4G-4A).

Matt Niskanen tailed a helper on Crosby’s power-play goal to tie his career high of 35 points (7G-28A) originally established in 2007-08 with Dallas.

Brandon Sutter’s shorthanded tally was his 10th goal of the season. Sutter has 2 of the Penguins’ 3 shorthanded tallies this year.

Evgeni Malkin had 2 assists tonight, extending his point streak to 6-games (4G-5A).

Deryk Engelland scored his career-high 5th goal. He has scored 2 goals as a defenseman and 3 at right wing.

Attendance: 18,636 (315th consecutive sellout)

Dan Bylsma:

Sidney Crosby:

Marc-Andre Fleury:

Brandon Sutter:

Michel Therrien:

Notes courtesy of Pittsburgh Penguins


Treasure Life!


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