Letang's Struggles Aiding Flyers In Push For Second Round
Coming into the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals matchup between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins, many debated who the most important member of the Penguins would be in the outcome of the series; Kris Letang or Sidney Crosby.
High praise when you consider that Crosby is the face of the entire league.
Be that as it may, there was a large majority who believed that Letang could play the biggest role in the outcome of the series. And thus far those people have been right, but for all the wrong reasons.
With three games gone and the Penguins on the verge of the end of their season, Letang has been the most disappointing skater on the Penguins roster (sans Marc-Andre Fleury, of course).
While Crosby has disappointed with his actions (both on and off the ice) he has still managed to produce a healthy amount of points to help the Penguins try to stay afloat in one of the most explosive playoff series in recent memory. He and James Neal currently lead the team in points with five each (both have scored two goals and have three assists).
Letang on the other hand is struggling.
After finishing the season with 42 points in only 51 games played, the normally offensively gifted defender only has two points in a series that has seen a combined total of 32 goals scored (both were assists in Game 1).
However, his lack of production is the least of his worries.
The most surprising development over the course of this series has been Letang’s complete lack of composure and poor decision-making skills.
In Game 2, he was called for diving while the Penguins were on a power play in an attempt to draw another penalty, which ended up completely backfiring.
After taking a shot that potentially could have increased the lead to three, Letang did his best to recreate what it would look like if a train hit somebody. Except a train didn’t hit him; he was bumped by Matt Read.
The result was a trade-off that any team would take (no offense to Read), one that took their opponents top defender and power play point man off the ice for two minutes in exchange for a fourth-line center.
Off the ensuing faceoff, Claude Giroux blew by Crosby and Steve Sullivan (both forwards) who were playing the point and set up a rebound, which Max Talbot ultimately put into the net to make it a one-goal game.
Two minutes before the play, the Penguins had scored a power play goal, had a two-goal lead and were pressuring to increase the lead to three. Following Letang’s dive, the team led by one and had doubt creeping in whether the Flyers would comeback in a second straight game (which ultimately ended up happening).
In Game 3, things only got worse.
With the score tied at one, Letang committed an unnecessary cross checking penalty that gave the surging Flyers a power play. They ultimately scored the go-ahead goal 55 seconds later and never let go of the lead.
The most embarrassing moment came moments later, when Crosby started fires all over the ice surface.
Letang started to fight Kimmo Timonen that earned each player five minutes for fighting and a game misconduct for engaging in a fight after a fight had just been broken up. He then placed his fingers to his lips in an attempt to ‘silence the crowd’ just as Talbot had done as a member of the Penguins in 2009 when that team was trailing the Flyers in Game 6 of that series.
It was a laughable moment that largely hasn’t been discussed other than a moment of utter silliness that had absolutely no effect.
Which pretty much sums up the 2012 playoffs for Letang.
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