The first thing of notice that came to the eyes of those in attendance was who wasn’t on the ice.
Juuso Riikola does not appear to be practicing today here in Cranberry.— Matt Vensel (@mattvensel) October 17, 2018
Riikola missing from practice could be a minor issue or it could be a big deal, despite nothing ever really being a big deal to me personally. Hopefully it is just a day of rest for the defenseman and not anything lingering in either the short-term or long-term range. One would assume that if Riikola is not able to play tomorrow night in Toronto against the Maple Leafs that Chad Ruhwedel would be the next defenseman to step into the lineup. If that is the case, I wonder if the Penguins would make another call-up, but that would require sending someone else down.
UPDATE: as it turns out, it is actually not a big deal.
Mike Sullivan: Juuso Riikola skipped practice as a maintenance day.— Seth Rorabaugh (@SethRorabaugh) October 17, 2018
On the offensive side of the ice, we see a little bit of tinkering things around as well.
#Pens switching it up during rushes:— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) October 17, 2018
The big noticeable change here is seeing Bryan Rust in the top line winger position that Derick Brassard had previously been occupying. With a lineup and roster this rich in talent and this deep, especially at the center position, I think this is the time of year that we will see more tinkering and adjusting to try and figure out what works and what doesn’t. I’m sure Derick Brassard wasn't too upset to be playing with Sidney Crosby while he is in a contract year, but things didn’t work out for a game, so they’ll try something else.
My other takeaway here is that keeping the line of Carl Hagelin, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel together is good news. I love that combination. Even though I love it, it’s still no big deal to me.