By Larry Snyder
The Pittsburgh Penguins disclosed Thursday morning that Kris Letang’s neck surgery this week for a herniated disc was a success. The recovery process is expected to be four to six months.
Letang last skated for the Black and Gold Tuesday, Feb. 21 against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC. The 6-foot, 201-pound defenseman from Montreal, Quebec contributed five goals and 29 assists for 34 points in 41 contests. Two of his five scores were game-winning goals.
Per Josh Yohe of dkpittsburghsports.com (subscription service), the key incident for Letang’s neck issues occurred during Game 1 of the 2016 NHL Eastern Conference final, when the Lightning’s Ryan Callahan hit the Pens 2005 first round draft pick from behind.
Defenseman Trevor Daley commented to the Tribune-Review’s Jonathan Bombulie about the entire blue line crew pulling together to replace Letang, “It’s not going to be one guy that’s going to replace Kris. There aren’t many guys in this league that can replace Kris. It’s gotta be by committee. Tonight, you’ve seen every pair match up against every line tonight. There wasn’t a matchup on our side. We just went out and played.”
Jason Mackey from the Post-Gazette reported head coach Mike Sullivan’s announcement that Marc-Andre Fleury is the starting goalie Friday in Game 2 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Tristan Jarry, from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, is the back-up. There was no timetable given for Matt Murray’s return from his lower-body injury, sustained last Thursday in the matchup with the Devils in New Jersey.
Jarry spoke to Michelle Crechiolo on the team’s website about being prepared to go in the game, “Every day you’re going through your routine and my routine was if I was going down to Wilkes and playing there. I was ready and prepared if I had to play the next day or that night. I think it’s one of those things where you’re always preparing for something and there’s different situations that you prepare for. It helps out with situations like we had last night.”
The 21-year-old netminder from Surrey, British Columbia continued, “You never know what could happen at any point in a game. It’s just something that you have to think of the mindset that you’re playing every game and you have to go in and prepare as you would as if you’re playing.”
Sam Kasan has the Pens using the following lines at Thursday’s practice. Bryan Rust and Daley were not on the ice as Sullivan gave the duo maintenance days.
From The Clipboard: The Friday match-up between Pittsburgh and Columbus at 7:00 p.m. is on ROOT Sports Pittsburgh and heard on 105.9 FM – The X. The OddsShark.com Power Rankings on Monday listed the Pens at No. 5 and the Jacks at No. 26.
Looking back with SPORTSNETCANADA on YouTube.com – Callahan lays elbow into Letang’s head for brutal hit…