Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' morning skate prior to facing the NY Islanders at Barclay Center.
* OK, let's get the elephant in the room out of the way early. The last time these two teams faced off was in last year's First Round Stanley Cup playoff series. The Islanders won four straight games to sweep the Penguins.
So, the obvious question: is there a revenge factor, or is this just another game?
Jack Johnson: "It's a little bit of both."
Sidney Crosby: "Yes and no. You're always up for those games you're playing a team you faced (in the playoffs). That being said, it's a new team, new situation. Your approach is probably a little different, but it's good motivation."
Bryan Rust: "The guys who were here last year have that taste in their mouth, it's not great. There are a lot of new guys in this room who are hungry, and it's a fresh start. We look at it as just another game, but it's a big game, divisional team that we have a history with. So, I think it'll be fun."
* The injury news for the Penguins is a little mixed. Kris Letang, who suffered a lower-body injury in Boston on Wednesday, did not take part in the team's morning skate (yes, they held a morning skate for one of the few times this season) and will not be in the lineup tonight.
"He's continuing to be evaluated, but he will not play tonight," head coach Mike Sullivan said. "It's probably not a probability (that he'll play Saturday), but I don't have an answer for you."
However, Evgeni Malkin, who was given a maintenance day and missed practice on Tuesday, did skate and is expected to be in the lineup, as is defenseman Brian Dumoulin, who has been home in Pittsburgh with his wife, Kayla, and newborn baby, Brayden.
* Judging by the defensive pairings at the morning skate, it appears that Juuso Riikola will enter the lineup in Letang's absence. Riikola skated on his off-side with defenseman Jack Johnson during the skate. Meanwhile, John Marino was bumped up to play alongside Dumoulin.
"It's exciting to be in the lineup. I'm just waiting on (confirmation)," said Riikola, who has played three games this season at forward and one on defense.
Riikola would be playing on his off-side, something he did for nearly all of last season. That doesn't mean that it's easy.
"It's a little bit different," Riikola said. "You do what you gotta do."
"We had a discussion based on the group that we have available. We decided to go with the pairs that we have," Sullivan said. "With everything taken into consideration we believe these are the tandems that give us the best chance to win."
The Pens had the following workflow…
Aston-Reese - Blueger-Tanev
* The Islanders and Penguins play each other three times over the next 15 days. The Islanders carry a 10-game winning streak into the game tonight, the second-longest streak in franchise history.
* Sidney Crosby has 113 points (36G-77A) in 66 career regular-season games against the Islanders, the most against any single team in his career. Rust has a four-game point streak (2G-2A) since returning from an upper-body injury.