Here's a look at 3 takeaways from the Penguins' Wednesday afternoon practice at PPG Paints Arena.
Ryan Reaves has been a tremendous fit inside the Penguins locker room since being acquired from St. Louis during the offseason.
"Obviously it was different coming in the first couple weeks, but I think the transition has been a lot easier than I kind of expected," he said. "Everyone's been real nice and it's a good group of guys, easy to get along with. I like to joke around a lot, so I think that kind of helps me get in with the room."
It has certainly helped him get in with Phil Kessel, as the two of them have developed quite the bromance these last few weeks.
"Phil is maybe my favorite human being on this team," Reaves said with a laugh.
It's evident in their interactions with each other, like when they played basketball against each other during an episode of In the Room. Or last night, when Reaves joined the group celebrating Kessel's overtime winner against Edmonton and immediately gave him a facewash. Or this afternoon, when he skated up to Kessel and put his arm around him as they did a few laps before practice.
"I was just bringing Phil back down to earth for a second," Reaves joked. "Sometimes he just needs a hug. We all need a hug sometimes, and today Phil needed a hug."
That doesn't mean Reaves won't hesitate to chirp him, as he did when talking about Kessel's recent luck in the card games they play on the team plane.
"He's terrible at cards. He seems to think he's the best player because he won a couple games -" Reaves said before being interrupted by Carl Hagelin, who yelled out while cracking up, "Wow! You just can't wait to stir the pot!"
"He's just a character," Reaves finished with a grin. "He's a good guy."
And so is Reaves, who truly has been such a tremendous addition to this team.
"I think his personality is great for our room," head coach Mike Sullivan said. "He's a passionate guy. He loves hockey. He loves his teammates. He loves being around the dressing room. I think he brings a lot of energy to our room and I think his teammates certainly appreciate his role and what he does as far as sticking up for our team and how hard he plays. So I think he's fitting in extremely well. I think you can see it with the interaction with the players both on the ice and off the ice."
2. Olli Maatta
Another interaction from today that featured Reaves was when he started howling with laughter after Olli Maatta blew a tire at the opposite blue line during special teams work.
Maatta may have stumbled there, but he's been as steady as it gets when it comes to his performance in games - particularly in terms of production. Maatta recently ran off a six-game point streak that ended Saturday in Tampa Bay, where he collected one goal and six assists over that span. It's the longest point streak by a Pens player this season, and Sullivan couldn't say enough about his contributions so far this season.
"I think his confidence right now is at an all-time high, which is great for him and for us," Sullivan said. "He sees the ice well, he can make an outlet pass, he distributes the puck well on the power play. He can join the rush. He does a lot of things from an offensive standpoint to help our team score goals. We felt as though he did it last year, too.
"As a defenseman, you don't always have to end up on the scoresheet to help a team score goals. We think Olli has done that consistently for us, in my tenure here as a coach, anyway. So we're happy for Olli that he's getting rewarded on the scoresheet this year. I think it's good for his confidence. I think it's good for our team. But certainly, we're not asking anything different of him. We've always believed that he's had a real solid two-way game."
3. Practice details
The Penguins practiced at PPG Paints Arena for the first time this season. The following players were absent: Kris Letang (maintenance), Matt Hunwick (concussion), Justin Schultz (concussion) and Carter Rowney (hand).
*Rowney was ruled out for Thursday night's contest against Winnipeg, while Hunwick and Schultz are considered doubtful.
*Hunwick and Rowney skated in the morning prior to practice.
*The Pens used the same line combinations from Tuesday's 2-1 overtime victory against Edmonton.
*With Letang and Schultz absent from practice, Olli Maatta worked on the team's top power-play unit.