Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang is focused on a specific number heading into this season, one that has nothing to do with goals or assists.
"My only goal is to play 82 games," Letang told the Penguins website. "That's my main goal. I just want to help the team all year long and not just part of it."
Letang tied his NHL career high with 11 goals last season and set a personal best with 54 points, but he missed the final seven games of the regular season and the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a concussion.
The 28-year-old missed 89 games in the three previous seasons because of assorted injuries and a stroke but reported feeling in top shape heading into this training camp.
"I was on the same program that I always do in the summer. No setbacks, nothing. I felt pretty good," Letang said.
Since becoming a regular NHL player in 2007-08, the only season when Letang played all 82 games was 2010-11, when he scored 50 points. He acknowledged some minor adjustments to his game may be necessary in order to reach his goal.
"Managing my ice a little bit more is going to be important," Letang said. "I cannot be all out like I do all the time. But I don't want to change my game. I want to be the same guy that is aggressive, that will finish checks and be a guy that's tough to play against."
Letang led the Penguins and was eighth in the NHL with an average time on ice of 25:29 last season. He mentioned the League leader in ice time, Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter (29:03), as an example of how he thinks he can play big minutes without wearing himself down over the course of 82 games.
"We all know my habits are built in. I'm a competitor," Letang said. "I like to be aggressive and physical. I try to bring every aspect of the game. It's something I need to work on, managing those times to be aggressive, physical, and those types of things."