Brian Dumoulin’s status uncertain for Penguins’ game vs. Bruins
BOSTON – Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin’s status for Monday’s game against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden remains uncertain as he is attending to the birth of his child.
In 10 games this season, Dumoulin has four points (one goal, four assists).
If Dumoulin is unavailable, defenseman Juuso Riikola appears to be the leading candidate to replace him in the lineup. Riikola skated on the top pairing during practice in Cranberry on Sunday alongside No. 1 defenseman Kris Letang.
“Juuso is a very versatile player,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “He’s mobile, he can skate, he can get back to pucks, he has good offensive instincts, he makes a good first pass, he can see the ice pretty well, he can shoot from the offensive blue line. So we like Juuso’s overall two-way game. Regardless of where we put him, if we choose to put him in the lineup, he’s a very capable NHL defensemen.”
Riikola has played in four games and no points this season, but three of those games came as an injury replacement on the left wing of the fourth line.
One player definitely not playing tonight – for for a few weeks even – is forward Patric Hornqvist. On Saturday team announced he would be going on injured reserve retroactive to Saturday for an undisclosed ailment.
Few others in the NHL offer what Hornqvist does as a net-front presence.
“(Hornqvist) for us, he’s a unique player for our group,” Sullivan said. “He’s kind of a bull in a china closet. He just wreaks havoc in front of the net, he gets in on the forecheck, he’s good in the battle areas, he might be every goalie’s worst nightmare in the league with the way he goes to the net and makes it hard for goaltenders with their sight lines and their motion and their movement, just at the top of the crease. That’s what he brings to our team. He’s certainly a guy that I know makes us a better team when he’s in our lineup. But once again, we’ve been through this before. When guys go down, it provides opportunities for others to step up and play more significant roles. Guys are going to have to step up and fill that void.”
Forward Bryan Rust skated on the right wing of second line in place of Hornqvist along with Alex Galchenyuk and Evgeni Malkin.
“His speed I think is dangerous,” Sullivan said. “No matter what line he’s on, he helps that line. He’s a great puck pursuit guy, he gets in on the forecheck, he puts defensemen under pressure, he forces turnovers, he’s got decent hockey sense that he can make plays when they do get the puck. And he has a conscientious game. He can play 200 feet. He has the ability to catch the rush if we get caught in the offensive zone. He has the awareness away from the puck that he can play down low in the defensive zone. So he’s a real versatile player. But for me, the biggest thing that (Rust) brings, no matter what line he plays on, is the speed element.”
Rust, no stranger to being moved up and down the lines or flipped to either wing, isn’t going to try to replace Hornqvist. He’ll stick to what he knows.
“Same as where ever else I play,” Rust said. “I play a north-south game, kind of get on the forecheck, use my speed to create some space for the guys I’m playing with.”
• The Penguins did not hold a morning skate.
• Matt Murray is scheduled to start in net for the Penguins. In 11 games this season, he has a 7-3-1 record along with a 2.17 goals against average, a .924 save percentage and one shutout.
• The Penguins’ power play is 0 for 19 on the power play over their past eight games. Their last power-play goal was scored by forward Jake Guentzel in a 7-2 road win against the Winnipeg Jets on Oct. 13.
• The Bruins are expected to start long-time Penguins nemesis Jaroslav Halak in goal. In five games this season, Halak has a 3-1-1 record along with a 2.59 goals against average, .919 save percentage and one shutout.
• Bruins forward David Backes will not play due to an undisclosed injury.
• Bruins rookie forward Cameron Hughes is expected to make his NHL debut.
Seth Rorabaugh is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Seth by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .