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Penguins notebook: Letang still fatigued 3 months after stroke

Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Kris Letang pokes the puck away from Blue Jackets forward Ryan Johansen during Game 6 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Monday, April 28, 2014, in Columbus, Ohio.

Penguins/NHL Videos

By Josh Yohe and Rob Rossi
Monday, April 28, 2014, 7:36 p.m.
 

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The intensity and scrutiny of the Stanley Cup playoffs can make it easy to overlook that Penguins defenseman Kris Letang had a stroke three months ago on Tuesday.

Letang said his body reminds him daily of what happened Jan. 28.

Although medically cleared to play and free of symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue remains an issue, Letang said. The Penguins' finest-conditioned athlete, according to teammates, Letang said he doesn't have the same energy that once was a given.

“It's different,” said Letang, who played in his ninth game Monday after returning from the stroke April 9.

“I haven't had a chance to play that much. Sometimes if I'm out for a few extended shifts, I get a little more tired than I used to.”

The Penguins have been careful with Letang's ice time during the playoffs.

He averaged 24 minutes and 14 seconds during the regular season. However, his ice time has been cut to 22:30 per game against the Blue Jackets despite overtime games.

Letang provided a performance in Game 5 on Saturday night that the coaching staff would prefer to see duplicated. Improved conditioning should only help.

“It comes with time,” Letang said. “I am starting to feel better each game.”

Letang also said he feels good about his new defense partner. He skated with Paul Martin in Games 4 and 5. The two possess similar styles, as both are elite skaters and offensive-minded.

Letang had played primarily with Rob Scuderi before Game 4.

“I like playing with him a lot,” Letang said of Martin. “I really do enjoy being out there with him. It wasn't really that hard (playing with a new partner). Everybody is playing the same system.”

Orpik out again

The Penguins played a second consecutive playoff game without defenseman Brooks Orpik on Monday night. He has not practiced since leaving a session early Friday.

Robert Bortuzzo again replaced Orpik and was paired with Rob Scuderi for Game 6 at Nationwide Arena.

The Penguins do not provide details of injuries during the postseason.

Orpik did ride a stationary bike Monday morning. Neither his knees nor ankles were braced or wrapped.

He had walked gingerly over the weekend.

Umberger sits

The Blue Jackets were without winger R.J. Umberger and defenseman Nikita Nikitin. As do the Penguins, the Blue Jackets do not divulge details about injuries during the playoffs — though, coach Todd Richards accidentally revealed Umberger, a Plum native, had a shoulder injury before Game 6.

Replacing Umberger and Nikitin were forward Jared Boll and defenseman Nick Schultz.

Gibbons progresses

Injured winger Brian Gibbons (upper body) participated in a morning practice and the pregame warm-up for the Penguins. He was injured early in Game 2 after scoring twice and has not played since.

Round 2 tickets

Select tickets for Games 1 and 2 of the second round will be available Wednesday morning.

The Penguins encourage fans to purchase at Ticketmaster's website and outlets or the Consol Energy Center box office.

Whiter shade of blue

Columbus fans were provided white T-shirts to create a “white-out” scene at Nationwide Arena. Several teams, including the Penguins, have borrowed the “white-out” in-arena concept that is reported to have originated in Winnipeg for Jets' playoff games in the 1980s.

The Penguins called for a “gold-out” for Game 1 and plan to do that again for the first home game of any playoff series going forward this postseason.

Josh Yohe and Rob Rossi are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Reach them at jyohe@tribweb.com or rrossi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib or @RobRossi_Trib.

 

 
 


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