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Pens Practice Update: Kulikov joins team

Jake Guentzel not at practice, but expected to play tomorrow

Pittsburgh Penguins v Florida Panthers Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

After an off day on Sunday, the Penguins were back at work at practice on Monday as they prepare for Columbus tomorrow night.

Here were the lines:

Some notes and thoughts and bullet form:

  • Good to see goalie Tristan Jarry back on the ice. He didn’t play on Saturday due to illness and has spent too many games unavailable this season as it is. Not being on the ice today would have put up any number of red flags as the team moves into a very important stretch of the schedule.
  • Dmitry Kulikov joined up with the team for the first time after a trade from Anaheim. If the practice lines hold (and we should probably expect so), Kulikov will be bumping P.O Joseph out of the lineup tomorrow night. That might cause some hand-wringing among the fans, but pretty much is what it is. Kulikov could be a decent enough player, but he’s not good enough to knock Brian Dumoulin out of the lineup. As such, Joseph is the odd man out. He’s done well in a low minute, highly sheltered role this season, but isn’t irreplaceable. Given the blueline injury history, Joseph will probably be back sooner than later.
  • Jake Guentzel doesn’t appear above — but don’t worry it was only deemed a maintenance day and coach Mike Sullivan already said the team expects to have Guentzel in the lineup tomorrow night. That’s good news, and (don’t finish this paragraph if you fear jinxes) injury issues haven’t been a big deal for the Pens’ top six forwards. Only Guentzel (4) and Jason Zucker (4) have missed a few games, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Bryan Rust and Rickard Rakell all have perfect game attendance so far, 62 games into the season.
  • Usually, Danton Heinen would just be a place holder, but don’t expect that in this case. Ryan Poehling was in a non-contact injury and he had a setback from what’s been an incredibly nagging injury, doubtful that Poehling is healed up and ready to go so soon after that. As such, Drew O’Connor on the third line is possibly a mirage (for now) but nice to see that look with him playing there. And, who knows, maybe for tomorrow Heinen bumps down with Bonino-Archibald and O’Connor gets a well-deserved spot on a more featured line.
  • For better or worse, Mikael Granlund and Jeff Carter will probably team up to share center duties on a line for the rest of the year. Both can take draws on their respective strong side of the ice. Carter should be able to shift over to wing more in the defensive zone to help cover up his growing age-related deficiencies. Granlund isn’t exactly a Selke winner himself, but at this point there’s not much other hope for the team besides getting him in tune with that role on this team and seeing how it goes.