Pens Plus-Minus: Letang’s up-and-down week; shots, shots, shots; Metro dominance

Dave Lozo’s weekly look at the Penguins wins, losses and hilarious off-ice falls.

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Pittsburgh Penguins
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Since we last left the Pittsburgh Penguins, they played just two games — a 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild and a 4-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Shots allowed continues to be an issue for the Penguins, as they allowed 80 total in the two games, the most they’ve given up in any two-game stretch this season. For the season, the Pens rank 29th with an average of 33.7 shots allowed per game.

With the schedule about to get busy and road-heavy, they need to remedy their defensive woes ASAP.

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Pittsburgh Penguins
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Penguins start a stretch of four games in six days when the visit the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night and cap it with a home matchup against the high-powered New York Rangers on Tuesday. These divisional showdowns will help paint the Metro picture over the coming weeks, as the Penguins sit four points behind the Rangers for the division lead and two points ahead of the Capitals.

The New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres make up the rest of the schedule and should be layups for the Penguins. The reeling Islanders have one win in their past seven games while the Sabres have lost five in a row.

The Penguins would do well to escape this week with six of eight available points.

Trip Before the Trip

Before the Penguins start a three-game road trip, Kris Letang embarked on a trip of his own. The puck was about to clip his skates as he was leaving the ice on a line change, so he jumped over the puck and then, well …

This all happened in front of Letang’s good friend, Marc-Andre Fleury. And what does a true buddy do when you see a friend in an embarrassing situation where he may need your help to get himself off the floor?

You look down upon him and laugh your ass off. You can tell they are close, if only because Fleury doesn’t even try to help Letang up or ask if he’s OK.

That’s true friendship.

Player of the Week

NHL: Minnesota Wild at Pittsburgh Penguins
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In one segment, we knock down Letang (or really, he knocks himself down).

In this segment, he gets our player of the (two-game) week award. In nearly 40 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time, Letang was on the ice for just 24 unblocked shot attempts by opponents and the Penguins had a 45-24 edge in that area over those two games.

The Penguins were a minus-1 in that area as a team last week.

Letang also had three assists, so he was valuable in terms of point production, underlying his numbers, and he really came through for us by falling through the bench door, because the tweets on a light week were sorely lacking. Thank you, Kristopher.

Player of the Weak

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at Pittsburgh Penguins
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Olli Maatta had a rough two-game go of it against the Wild and Leafs, as he was a minus-24 in on-ice unblocked shot attempts over those two games. Maatta will never be mistaken for Erik Karlsson, but he has just one point in 15 games this season. Have the injuries and other medical issues affected Maatta’s development?

Isle of This Content


Well, person with a Twitter profile dedicated to the New York Islanders, I’m not going to lie — it’s probably going to be bad. It’s a weird game for the Islanders, because they have three days off before it and three days off after it, so not only will the Islanders be combatting the issue of being not very good, they’ll also have to combat rust and the distraction of a weekend off.

But this is hockey, and just because one team should thrash another team, it doesn’t always go that way. The Vancouver Canucks went into Madison Square Garden and knocked around the Rangers last week. Sometimes weird things happen.

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Pittsburgh Penguins
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

But since I’m writing this for a Pittsburgh-based web site …

Penguins 9, Islanders 1.