Juuso Riikola was not one of the dominant themes or players Wednesday night when the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-2 at PPG Paints Arena. Fans did not leave the barn enraptured by Riikola’s game, but Riikola’s game should have made a heavy impact on the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.
Riikola leapfrogged defenseman Jack Johnson and earned a chance this week as a third-pairing defenseman beside Erik Gudbranson. After one practice, a morning skate, and an evasive answer from head coach Mike Sullivan, Riikola was rolled out as the Penguins left-side defenseman ahead of Johnson who was served a plate of press box nachos.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now focused exclusively on Riikola for each of his shifts Wednesday night; every step he made, every move he made, we were watching.