Tonight, for the second time in a week, the Penguins (2-1) will square off against the Montreal Canadiens (1-1-1), this time from the Bell Centre in Montreal with face-off set for just after 7:00PM. Last Saturday, Paul Byron and the Canadiens torched Matt Murray and the Penguins, scoring five goals on 29 shots defeating them by a score of 5-1. It was a pretty embarrassing performance by pretty much everyone in the black and gold especially for defenseman Olli Maatta who was by far the worst defenseman on the ice that night.
Maatta returns to the lineup after being a healthy scratch Thursday when the Penguins beat the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Tonight, it appears as if Jamie Oleksiak will be the healthy scratch in favor of the second Finnish Penguin defensive sensation, Juuso Riikola. Riikola turned heads in his NHL debut Thursday. Logging 17:11 of ice time, Riikola managed to make several stellar defensive plays, including playing the body a few times. The 24 year-old Fin showed that he could easily be a regular on the Penguins blue line and I would expect him to be, with the Penguins likely rotating and juggling pairings nightly.
It also appears that goaltender Matt Murray has been cleared to return to game action. Murray apparently suffered a concussion in practice early last week and per Josh Yohe of The Athletic, Murray made the trip and will back up Casey DeSmith. The Penguins made the right call tonight, going with their number one goalie.
The Habs are coming off a 3-0 loss to the L.A. Kings in their home opener on Thursday, which means they'll probably win by a landslide tonight.
Speaking of which, watch for winger Paul Byron to tally roughly 434 goals tonight.
Juuso Riikola will play again tonight, this time paired with the Penguins' other Finnish defenseman, Olli Maatta.
Speaking of changes, it appears that Bryan Rust will start on the right wing of Sidney Crosby instead of Patric Hornqvist.
Hornqvist will likely start on the third line with Simon and Brassard.
Mike Sullivan called Casey DeSmith, "the best player on the ice" following Thursday's 4-2 win. Tonight, he'll start again.
Phil Kessel, also known as the real American Sniper, tallied a natural hat trick last game and looked dominant doing so. His shot is absolutely incredible.
Look for the Turtle Neck guy, Tomas Plekanec, to center Montreal's 4th line.
Big congratulations to Scouting the Refs. They managed to actually update referees and linesman prior to the start of games. Good work.
Apparently Daniel Sprong lived in Montreal when he was a kid, so maybe he'll do something productive tonight in his homecoming game, but I doubt it.
If you're going to the game tonight or in the Montreal area, get some poutine. That stuff is unreal.