Paul Martin is not Kris Letang.

He never will play with Letang's charisma nor match his physical attributes.

Letang's absence Thursday, however, made something clear: The power play is just fine in Martin's hands.

With Martin as the unit's quarterback, the Penguins moved the puck with precision against Washington, converting on three of four opportunities.

“That,” Penguins newcomer Dylan Reese said, “was the best power play I've ever seen.”

Whenever Letang returns to the lineup — he was the only Penguins player who didn't practice Friday at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. — he again will find himself on the top power play. Coach Dan Bylsma called Letang the unit's quarterback as recently as one week ago, and given that the power play is clicking at 29.3 percent, good for third in the NHL, there is no need for change.

Still, Martin's performance Thursday against Washington drew heavy praise. The veteran defenseman does not boast a powerful shot from the point, but his ability to quickly move the puck to the Penguins' gifted goal scorers was noted by many of his teammates following the 5-2 victory.

“I was impressed,” said James Neal, who already has four power play goals after leading the NHL with 18 last season. “It was just typical Marty. It's the way he goes about his play. He's an underrated defenseman. He's solid. He plays that way every night.”