As the Penguins took to the ice on Thursday to gear up for a Friday-Saturday home-and-home series with the Buffalo Sabres, they also welcomed back defenseman Kris Letang to practice in a regular contact jersey.
Well hello Kris Letang!! -DP pic.twitter.com/k3YKNyPl9D— AT&T SportsNet™ PIT (@ATTSportsNetPIT) December 8, 2022
Letang had joined for a sparsely attended morning gameday skate earlier in the week, practicing with a regular contact jersey for a full team practice is a much different and bigger step forward after suffering a stroke just 10 days ago.
Based on line rushes, the easing back process for Letang is still in play, with the star defender only rotating in for third pair drills.
#Pens lines (No Archibald):— Wes Crosby (@OtherNHLCrosby) December 8, 2022
In other news, Ryan Poehling was in a no contact jersey after missing his first game of the season on Tuesday. Based on that, he is unlikely to play tomorrow. That could present a problem for the Penguins, because Josh Archibald missed today’s practice as well. The team would need one of Poehling or Archibald to dress tomorrow night in Buffalo in order to field a full compliment of 12 forwards. Based on their precarious salary cap position, they may not have space to get a replacement for a minor injury.
We’ll update if Mike Sullivan has any updates about Letang, whose official status was previously unchanged from being out of the lineup. In the mean time, the defender continues to look pretty good wheeling around the ice as he attempts a return from his medical incident last week.
Letang during drills. -DP pic.twitter.com/tNV1s0ia3k— AT&T SportsNet™ PIT (@ATTSportsNetPIT) December 8, 2022
Update: after the practice the Penguins have changed Letang’s status from “out indefinitely” to “day to day”. Their doctor also provided an encouraging update from the medical side of things:
Dr. Vyas on Letang: "Certainly it is not the sport that created this problem for him... We don't think that playing the sport itself is risky for him."— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) December 8, 2022
Dr. Vyas on Letang: "He's always surprised us with how well he heals. We don't think this is accelerated in any way, we're taking all the right precautions to make sure he is safe to go out and play. And when that time comes, we'll let him go back to playing his sport."— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) December 8, 2022
Letang himself also gave an update:
Kris Letang: "People know me well by now, and know that hockey is a passion for me. It’s going to take a lot to drag me out of it. But at the same time, I know the danger. I know all the risks I’m taking, and if there’s none, I’ll resume playing. That’s the case right now."— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) December 8, 2022