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Kris Letang to make season debut for Penguins Friday night

By Chris Peters | Hockey Writer

Kris Letang will make his season debut Friday night. (USATSI)
Kris Letang will make his season debut Friday night. (USATSI)

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have been getting along just fine this season, sitting atop the Metropolitan Division with a 7-2-0 record. Things are about to get better though as Kris Letang is expected to return to the Penguins' lineup Friday night against the New York Islanders.

Letang, a Norris Trophy finalist last season, missed the first nine games this year with a lower-body injury suffered during practice right before the season.

His presence should provide a boost to a defense that has already had a great start to the year. Top blueliners Rob Scuderi, Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik have been solid so far this season, as has Matt Niskanen who leads the D corps with six points.

The surprise of the season for Pittsburgh has been 19-year-old rookie Olli Maatta, who will remain with the team for the duration.

To make room for Letang, Robert Bortuzzo draws out of the lineup, while regular defenseman Deryk Engelland will play forward on the team's fourth line.

Letang obviously will also help the scoring depth for the Penguins, which is already getting massive production out of stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Last season, Letang had 38 points and a plus-16 rating in 35 games while playing an average of 25:38 a game.

According to Penguins.com, head coach Dan Bylsma and his staff will “monitor” Letang's minutes Friday, but the defenseman says he feels ready to go.

“My legs and conditioning have never been an issue,” he said. “It's something I work on even when I'm injured. I'm not going to worry about that. That's the reason I like to work really hard off the ice and making sure my conditioning is as high as it was before. (Penguins.com)

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