Letang dealing with bad back injury?


The Pittsburgh Penguins dropped their 4th straight game with a 5-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night. Chicago torched the Penguins with a four-goal first period en route to the rout.

The underlying numbers showed a more competitive game than the scoreboard. Chicago was just +4, (50-46) in 5v5 shot attempts and Pittsburgh best players drove possession, Sidney Crosby at 59%, Conor Sheary at 56%.

With the Penguins’ loss and the Capitals cruising to another victory tonight against the lowly Avalanche, the Penguins are becoming settled into that 2-3 spot in the Metropolitan Division.

Columbus with a game in hand are two points ahead of the Penguins and a win vs Carolina tomorrow night would have them four points up on the Penguins with both teams having six games remaining.

The Penguins ravished by injuries had some encouraging news the past couple days with Ron Hainsey and Jake Guentzel each participating in today’s morning skate and both are expected to return to the lineup Friday night vs New York.

Head coach Mike Sullivan was also asked after tonight’s game if he expects Kris Letang back for the start of the playoffs and his response was “yes.”

As noted before, the thing on Letang is the Penguins have been optimistic he’d return by the playoffs but there’s questions inside team circles if he’ll be able to play through the injury or if the injury will limit him playing up to the ability he can.

Letang is dealing with what’s been described as a tricky back injury where some days have been brutal for him and some have been good.

It’s an injury the Penguins just have not been able to put a timetable on but have been somewhat pleased at the progress he’s shown the last couple weeks, though, the team internally had been hoping he’d be able to get back to practicing with the club by now.

A source said it’s possible Letang could need surgery this summer but is a last resort and something all parties hope to avoid.

Letang has been sidelined since February 22. [/hide]