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Help’s on the way: Letang, Bennett cleared for practices

Mar 16, 2014, 3:44 PM EDT

krisletanggetty Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Penguins had a weekend they’d rather forget after being swept by the Philadelphia Flyers in their home-and-home series, but the news is far from dire.

After the match, the Penguins revealed that forward Beau Bennett and defenseman Kris Letang have been given the green light to start fully participating in Penguins’ practices.

It wasn’t clear if Letang would be able to return this season after suffering a stroke on Jan. 29. Now it looks like he might rejoin the Penguins’ lineup in the near future, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Josh Yohe.

If he’s healthy enough to play, the Penguins could certainly use him. Pittsburgh has struggled to gain any traction in his absence as evidenced by its 7-5-2 record.

Bennett was regarded as a potential top-six forward going into this season, but he’s been limited to 12 games. The 22-year-old suffered a setback in late February in his efforts to return from a hand/wrist surgery.

Those are two of the prominent names on the Penguins’ lengthy injury list. They are also missing Paul Martin, Chris Kunitz, James Neal, Pascal Dupuis, and Tomas Vokoun.

  1. sjsharks66 - Mar 16, 2014 at 4:04 PM

    I really hope they are not rushing Letang out. I love watching him play, but his safety and health are more important.

    • seniorteacherdot - Mar 16, 2014 at 7:26 PM

      The doctors who recommend when players return are very conservative–look how long all the injured have stayed out and then eased back.

  2. pitpenguinsrulez - Mar 16, 2014 at 4:07 PM

    I’ve been hard on Letang on all season rightfully so but the lack of shots/puck possession recently has shown how much they miss Martin & Letang. Letangs movement of the puck helps to create space and allow for plays to happen with Sid and Geno.

    • chanceoffleury - Mar 16, 2014 at 4:56 PM

      More than anything I think the Pens are missing the distraction the players out of the lineup provide. Letang, Neal, Martin, Kunitz, and Dupuis aren’t useless without Crosby or Malkin, they’re all impact players in their own right. But Malkin and Crosby bring them to another level and make them look like they are the elite of the elite in their position across the league. Without them teams can focus all their energy on Crosby and Malkin, and it shuts the Pens down because Megna, Vitale, Gibbons, Maata, Pyatt, etc. are all in mismatched opponent pairings above the play level their used to as it is. Those guys aren’t really qualified to be playing against another team’s top lines every single play but right now the Pens don’t really have another option. The open net that Megna wiffed on today made me die a little and realize how bad the Pens need the help. I wasn’t mad at Megna, he’s still young and learning. But I can’t think of a situation where Neal or Kunitz don’t lift that shot up and bury it before the Flyers even have time to react to how open the net was. Despite that, imo the powerplay is where they miss them most obviously right now. It’s almost like the players in there are trying to *be* the same thing Letang, Neal, or Kunitz is on the powerplay, instead of using their own strengths which is what looks to be causing the major defensive lapses. The powerplay has looked pretty god awful more times than not in both games. Maybe I’m just being optimistic, but I think Letang is gonna come back and play crazy good. He’s been hurt all year, and even when he was playing it wasn’t great. I think he’ll come back with something to prove and play solid. God knows the Pens need something to inspire them right now. They’ve got a tough mix of playoff teams and bubble teams coming up and I’m not sure who I’m more scared for them to face. The bubble teams are just going to get more and more desperate every day that brings us closer to April 13th. Depending on how the Flyers handle their tough road ahead, April 12th could become even more of a spectacle than I’m sure it will inevitably already be.

  3. Stiller43 - Mar 16, 2014 at 4:42 PM

    Im pretty sure theyre not taking someone who had a stroke and saying “oh em gee play again, we need to win a hockey game”

    Everyone knows whats very much more important

  4. matt14gg - Mar 16, 2014 at 5:06 PM

    First of all people need to understand “stroke” is a very broad term. All it tells us is that there was an interruption to the blood flow to his brain. This could have lasted seconds, minutes or even hours (though that’s not likely). People have TIA’s and CVA’s all the time and in fact many people will never be aware they even had a stroke. Some are extremely serious and some are very minor. The fact that Letang was cleared in just a few weeks tells it it was fairly minor and that there are no long term deficits.

    I’m happy for Letang that things have turned well and it will probably have no effect on his life or his livelihood going forward.

    • cheesesteak75 - Mar 16, 2014 at 6:41 PM

      Thanks doc.

  5. rushledger - Mar 16, 2014 at 6:02 PM

    Great news, plain and simple.

  6. bobhpine - Mar 16, 2014 at 11:11 PM

    Letang is brave for coming back so quickly. His team needs him. I went to the game this afternoon and it’s so,evident up close that they are all out of sorts in their own zone collecting the puck and moving it up to the forward. That is Letang specialty, along with his great skating.

    The Pens are guilty of feeling sorry for themselves this weekend. Compete level didn’t match Philly. Unacceptable.

  7. c1md6 - Mar 17, 2014 at 11:35 AM

    Also trending on the Nothing But Crosby network, the Penguins have just sat down for breakfast, sources say it’s French toast with a side of fruit but those accusations have yet to be confirmed.

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