A couple noteworthy things came out of Pittsburgh Penguins practice Friday at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. Defenseman Mike Matheson was missing, and winger Kasper Bjorkqvist was skating on the fourth line, displacing Zach Aston-Reese.
We will update later if coach Mike Sullivan offers an update on Matheson.
As for the interesting switch on the fourth line, Aston-Reese has been a part of an effective fourth line with Brian Boyle and Dominik Simon while Teddy Blueger has been out. (Blueger continues to practice in a no-contact jersey and with a bulky jaw guard.)
However, Aston-Reese, for as much as he brings physically and defensively, has just one goal, and that came Nov. 24. It’s not known if he will be the odd man out Saturday when the Penguins lug their three-game losing streak into their first meeting of the season against the visiting New York Rangers.
Bjorkqvist, the Penguins’ second-round draft pick in 2016 who has been plagued by injuries the past few seasons, has played in his first six NHL games this season, with one goal.