Penguins’ Letang Amazes, Bennett Shows Promise

Just when you thought that you had seen it all from Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, he goes and surprises us all over again.

Letang is piling up monster game after monster game, but even without a goal, the contest on Easter Sunday was particularly special.

Letang played the majority of the overtime period against the New York Rangers Sunday night, but he didn’t just log a lot of minutes, they were quality, full-throttle minutes. It was fitting that he had the primary assist on the game winner by Sidney Crosby.

During Sunday’s game, Letang had amazing possession numbers with 41 Corsi For and a Corsi Plus/Minus of plus-19. He led all players with 31:45 of ice time.

Brooks Orpik, Paul Martin and other players that exemplified leadership as defenders in Pittsburgh are gone. This is Letang’s blue line now, and he is owning it. Young players like Olli Maatta, Brian Dumoulin and Derrick Pouliot could not ask for a better mentor. Letang is one of the hardest workers on the team, on and off the ice. He is a Stanley Cup winner and the example of perseverance. Not to mention that he is the Penguins most talented defender since Paul Coffey.

The fact that Letang is not recognized for his efforts is a tragedy. P.K. Subban, Erik Karlsson and Shea Weber seem to get more attention during NHL award season, but when healthy, I’d take Letang over anyone in the league.

Beau Bennett is having moments in recent games that remind us how talented he really is.

Yes, Bennett and his injuries have become somewhat of a running joke in the hockey world, but there is a reason that he was a first-round draft pick.

There was one instance that jumps out during the Rangers game when he carried the puck alone through the offensive zone. After spinning around defenders, he nearly scored on a wraparound against Henrik Lundqvist. This was one of a few moments since his return that showcased his skill and creativity.

His overall impact has been minimal, and the fancy stats aren’t there to make a case that is indispensable, but he is an upgrade when available.

Bennett is in an odd position with the Penguins. His skill set is that of a top-six forward, but his injuries, and the logjam at forward, have kept him in a bottom-six role. He does need time with Sidney Crosby, but with the team on a streak, fighting for a playoff spot, now is not the time to experiment.

The best course of action with Bennett is to try to get his value up in what remains of the season, and trade him in the offseason. Which is sad, because who knows what could have been?

Until next time.