Penguins defenseman Letang's injury isn't concussion-related

| Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Defenseman Kris Letang did not play against the New York Islanders on Tuesday, but the good news is that the injury he is dealing with is not concussion-related. He is dealing with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

Letang was involved in two violent collisions against the Devils on Sunday. Following one against winger Dainius Zubrus, he appeared woozy.

Although Letang left the game for about five minutes, he did return. Coach Dan Bylsma made it very clear that Letang was not dealing with any concussion symptoms and was only allowed to return to the contest following a medical evaluation.

"We weren't going to put him back on the ice until we knew he was checked out and cleared," Bylsma said.

The Penguins were especially cautious with Letang because he has missed two long stretches this season because of concussion issues.

"That's why we sent him off the ice and why he had to go see a doctor," Bylsma said. "He wouldn't (be allowed) to go back in given A, that hit, and B, his history."

Not feeling the Love

Defenseman Ben Lovejoy will miss the next three-to-four weeks with a knee injury. Bylsma was unsure of the precise nature of the injury, saying only that Lovejoy underwent surgery following a knee injury sustained against the Devils on Sunday. Lovejoy sustained a broken wrist earlier this season.

Impressed with the youngsters

Rookies Simon Despres and Brian Strait played against the Islanders because of a rash of injuries to the Penguins' blue line, and Bylsma expressed supreme confidence in the youngsters.

Bylsma mentioned Despres' first NHL game in Washington against the Capitals early this season as a calming experience for the coach.

"That showed he could handle big stars, speed and players in big-game situations," Bylsma said, noting that Despres was on the ice against Washington left wing Alex Ovechkin for portions of the game.

Getting closer

Goalie Brent Johnson, defenseman Matt Niskanen and center Joe Vitale missed Tuesday's games with injuries, but they could return to the lineup soon.

It isn't known if Johnson will be healthy enough to start a game before the regular season's conclusion, but the Penguins would like to insert him into the lineup during one of their final six games.

Healthy scratches

Center Dustin Jeffrey, who played Sunday against New Jersey, and left wing Eric Tangradi were healthy scratches against the Islanders.

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