Penguins notebook: Letang to be further evaluated on illness


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The illness that has affected defenseman Kris Letang for several days has reached the point where the Penguins are pursuing further evaluation.

Coach Dan Bylsma was somewhat cryptic Monday in announcing Letang's status.

"Kris Letang continues to not feel well," Bylsma said. "They're doing further evaluations and tests on him."

Asked if there was concern that Letang has something serious or with long-term implications, Bylsma said, "We're uncertain. We'll continue to do some tests on him."

The Penguins have not divulged what symptoms Letang is experiencing.

Letang was practicing regularly and playing up until Wednesday, when he sat out a practice in Los Angeles. He has missed the three subsequent games, including a game Monday night against the Ottawa Senators at Consol Energy Center.

Methot talks with Dupuis

The Penguins and Ottawa played just once this season before Monday, a 5-0 Senators win Dec. 23 that not only left the Penguins exasperated but also left top-line right winger Pascal Dupuis with a season-ending injury.

Penguins center Sidney Crosby was carrying the puck in the Senators' end in the first period when defenseman Marc Methot threw a hip check that upended him. Crosby's skates narrowly missed Dupuis' face and Crosby crashed into Dupuis' right knee, leaving Dupuis with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. He has surgery scheduled for Feb. 12.

Methot had a chance to speak with Dupuis Monday morning. He said Dupuis harbored no hard feelings.

"There's not much you can do. It was a freak accident," Methot said. "He told me that it could have been worse; he could have gotten a skate to the face."

Methot has no regrets.

"No. I'm doing my job," he said. "I'm physical on one player; it's not my fault he runs into another. It's part of the game. It's a physical sport. I get hit a lot, too.

"You never wish anybody to get hurt. I have a lot of respect for both Sidney and for [Dupuis]. But it's a hockey play, and I'm just doing my job. I mean, I look stupid if he goes around me and scores a goal, so I've got to play him hard."

Methot said he always will try to hit Crosby and slow him.

"It's definitely easier said than done," he said. "There's a reason why great players are great. You're not able to hit them. They're always in good spots. Their heads are always up.

"To be honest, I rarely get licks on Sidney, and I'm matched up against him quite a bit. It's just one of those things where I don't think he saw it coming."

After that game, Crosby -- who left briefly following the hip check -- said the hit was dangerous and that Methot nearly blew out his knee.

Methot disputed that.

"That's one my specialties," he said of hip checks. "I've landed a couple of other nice ones since that hit. I lock in with a guy's hip. It usually twists them around. There was no exception there with Sid. I can't get lower than his kneecap. I'm 6 [feet] 3.

"I can understand how he would be emotional after a game like that and losing a player, but it's a hockey play. It's in the game, and you're allowed to hit guys like that."

Tip-ins

Penguins prospect Eric Hartzell was named American Hockey League goaltender of the month for January. The first-year pro allowed two goals or fewer in 10 appearances for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, going 5-2-0 with a 1.33 goals-against average, a .944 save percentage and one shutout. ... Wingers Beau Bennett and Chris Conner, both of whom have wrist injuries, skated before the game-day skate. ... In addition to Letang, the Penguins scratched forwards Jayson Megna and Andrew Ebbett.


Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly.

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