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Upcoming Canadian travel could really hamper Penguins

The Pens have brought back Juuso Riikola and aren’t bothering to bring Tristan Jarry to Canada...Chad Ruhwedel and Marcus Pettersson can’t even get into the country, which could create problems in the next few weeks for the Pens..

Pittsburgh Penguins v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

The Penguins made a flurry of moves and announcements today ahead of their busy weekend that will see them play on the road Saturday in Ottawa and the Sunday in Washington DC.

With Ruhwedel and Pettersson being temporarily unwelcome in Canada due to their recent COVID cases, the Penguins have recalled Juuso Riikola on an emergency basis. Pettersson got injured in the game last night, so it was debatable whether or not he would have been playing on Saturday anyways, but now we know he won’t. Both Petterson and Ruhwedel are back on the NHL’s COVID protocol list so that they will not count against the team’s 23-player max roster size while the Pens are briefly in Canada.

The Pens only have six healthy defensemen, which means Riikola and P.O Joseph (healthy scratch last night) should be in the lineup against Ottawa.

Tristan Jarry isn’t even going to Ottawa, a strategy that NHL teams have occasionally done with goalies on road trips in back-to-back situations. No reason for Jarry to fly north to Ottawa only to go back south to Washington, might as well cut down on the travel.

In conjunction, the Pens called up Louis Domingue from the AHL, which presumably means Casey DeSmith will get the start tomorrow night in Ottawa. This is huge for DeSmith, who hasn’t played since October 28th, and who has also surrendered nine goals in just two games this season. DeSmith has always been a sturdy, reliable backup goalie, but good will runs out mighty quickly for a backup, this game will be a rare chance to face an under-manned team. It’s quietly a pretty big one for DeSmith to take care of business and give the Pens no reason to question what they have with him this season.

One other interesting (and unfortunate) point to keep in mind is that the Pens play games in Canada on November 18, 20 and 22nd in the coming days and weeks. With Canada’s 14-day quarantine rule, this could mean that all of Sidney Crosby, Brian Dumoulin and Mike Sullivan will be unable to enter the country. That would create another awkward stop for Crosby, especially if he’s cleared in time to play a home game against Buffalo on November 16th.

The Pens also travel to Western Canada from November 29th - December 4th, so that could be a future trip to keep in mind if any further COVID protocol cases pop up. We’ll have to wait and see what, if any, limitations are still in place on Pittsburgh players/coaches getting into Canada for that trip.