Pittsburgh Penguins: Defensemen Kris Letang, Alex Goligoski Taking Center Stage

Name NameCorrespondent INovember 17, 2010

Kris Letang is enjoying a breakout year.
Kris Letang is enjoying a breakout year.Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Average is the perfect word to describe the Pittsburgh Penguins first 20 games of the 2010-11 NHL season.

Their strong penalty kill and weak power play combine to make a very average special teams. Their 10-8-2 record could be called average, considering the Penguins great success in recent years. That record evens out to a .550 points percentage, another average stat.

Superstar Evgeni Malkin? He's been average.

Face-off percentage? You guessed it, an incredibly average 50.7 percent won.

It doesn't take a genius to see the trend here. With a few exceptions, the Pittsburgh Penguins have experienced a very average season thus far.

These exceptions, however, are the factors responsible for making things interesting.

Defensemen Kris Letang and Alex Goligoski are both enjoying breakout seasons. At 23 and 25 years old respectively, both rearguards can be considered late bloomers.

The two defenders seem to have found the same offensive spark. Letang has scored three goals and 14 assists for 17 total points, while Goligoski has posted four markers and seven assists for 11 points. Both players hold a solid plus eight.

To put Letang's numbers in perspective, let's look these names;

Patrick Kane, Dany Heatley, Anze Kopitar, Bobby Ryan, Patrick Marleau, Evgeni Malkin.

The players listed are deadlocked with Letang at 17 points. That's not a bad company to surround yourself with if you ask me!

Letang's point total lands him in tie for second place among Penguins skaters. To add to that, he is tied for first in the NHL among defensemen. Goligoski sits at a tie for fourth on the Pens club, but clocks in at 17th among NHL defenders.

Both defenders are receiving consistent ice time from coach Dan Bylsma. Letang spends an average of 22:49 on the ice every game, while Goligoski skates for an average of 23:28. The latter spends a large portion of his time on the power play; his average of 5:36 per game leads Penguins defensemen and places second among NHL rearguards.

This increased ice time signifies that Letang and Goligoski are finding their place in the NHL, and more importantly, their place on the Penguins.

Their impressive offensive stats spark a separate conversation about a certain star defenseman.

Anybody remember Sergei Gonchar? 


Follow me on Twitter! @NHLKaelan