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3 Things: Injury Updates, Workflow and More

by Caleigh Burchfield

Here are the 3 biggest takeaways from the Penguins' Monday practice at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.

1. Injury updates

Defenseman Juuso Riikola, who has missed the last 12 games with an upper-body injury, skated in a regular full-contact jersey.

"He joined our practice today in a full capacity, so he was full contact," head coach Mike Sullivan said. "So he's getting closer to a game-time decision."

Forwards Jared McCann and Evan Rodrigues and defenseman Brian Dumoulin all skated on their own this morning.

"They haven't joined the taxi squad yet, but they're skating on their own," Sullivan said.

McCann, who has missed the last five games with a lower-body injury, traveled with the team for their four-game road swing that begins Tuesday in Washington. Rodrigues, who has missed the last 10 games with a lower-body injury, and Dumoulin, who has missed the last nine games with a lower-body injury, will remain in Pittsburgh.

"They're going to stay back here with (skills coach) Ty Hennes, and Ty's going to skate them and continue their return-to-play rehab on the ice," Sullivan said.

All other expected players were on the ice this morning.

2. Workflow

The lines were mostly unchanged since Saturday's 3-2 win over the Islanders. After Kapanen played just one shift in the third period of that game, he remained on the top line at practice, skating alongside Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby.

"Kappy and I had a conversation today and I'd rather that stay between Kappy and I, but I think we're very much on the same page on what the expectations are, and we'll more forward from there," Sullivan said.

Drew O'Connor did not take part in rushes, with Colton Sceviour skating in his place. Sullivan spoke about the identity of the fourth line after practice, noting that they're looking to be a little more reliable in their own end when forced to defend and need to have more offensive zone time.

The Penguins used the following workflow…

Guentzel-Crosby-Kapanen

Zucker-Malkin-Rust

Aston-Reese--Blueger-Tanev

Sceviour-Jankowski-Lafferty


Joseph-Letang

Matheson-Marino

Pettersson-Ceci

Riikola-Ruhwedel
 

They used the following power-play units:

PP1) Crosby, Malkin, Letang, Guentzel, Rust

PP2) Matheson, Marino, Zucker, Kapanen, O'Connor

3. Jarry keeps building

Goaltender Tristan Jarry has looked incredibly solid as of late, starting in four of the last five games and earning a 3-1 record in those contests. Following Saturday's victory, Sullivan and his teammates all praised Jarry's performance, largely crediting him for the win.

"Quite honestly, we got outplayed a lot of the night, and the goaltender has the ability to be a difference maker, and he was for us tonight," Sullivan said that night.

One of Jarry's biggest areas of improvements has been his confidence, and he said that Sullivan and goalie coach Mike Buckley have helped him his game in the right place both mentality and physically.

"I think (my confidence) is growing with every game," Jarry said. "Every game I want to be better and I want to challenge myself to be better. I think that's just starting in practice, starting work with Buck early in practice, and I think it translates into my game."

Some of Jarry's biggest strengths come in his puckhandling and passing. He played as a forward until he was 10, which also gives him the ability to read the plays with ease. This combined skill set makes it easier for defensemen to retrieve pucks and play off the rebounds when they do come.

"He's kept the games in our hand," defenseman Marcus Pettersson said. "I think we're doing a pretty good job in front of him, but I think his calm presence really, really helps us and I don't think he's given us many rebounds. That also really helps us and makes us look good. I think the presence that he has really gives confidence to us."

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