It’s been more than two months since Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang suffered a minor stroke, sidelining him indefinitely.
But with three games to go in the regular season, the 26-year-old will return to NHL action Wednesday night when the Detroit Red Wings come to town in a possible first-round playoff preview.
Letang has been practicing with the team since mid-March, but doctors told him he alone could determine his readiness for games. Physicians determined that playing hockey didn’t cause Letang’s late-January transient ischemic attack (TIA) and that his returning to the ice wouldn’t increase risk of a recurrence.
Letang’s presence should further boost a Penguins lineup that has been gradually getting healthier. The past two weeks have featured the returns of winger Beau Bennett and defenseman Paul Martin from lengthy absences.
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma told reporters Letang would be paired with the defensive-minded Rob Scuderi for Wednesday’s tilt. That’s a duo Pittsburgh had in mind from the moment Scuderi was signed as a free agent last summer, but that tandem has played together in just a handful of games.
During the morning skate at Consol Energy Center, Letang participated in power-play drills on the No. 2 unit. Matt Niskanen and Martin will continue to man the points on the top power-play fivesome, at least for the time being.
Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Brooks Orpik and Olli Maatta were full participants in the gameday workout, indicating they will return after sitting out games last weekend. The rookie Maatta has missed two straight games with an undisclosed upper-body injury.
Tonight’s Game: Penguins (50-24-5, 105 points – 1st Metropolitan) vs. Red Wings (38-27-14, 90 points – 4th Atlantic) at Consol Energy Center
Faceoff: 8 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Network
Radio: 105.9 The X
Larry Snyder and I talked primarily NHL and USHL junior pucks in today’s episode of the Gospel of Hockey on City of Champions Radio. We welcomed Youngstown Phantoms voice Ryan Schwepfinger to assist us in that task: