Changes coming on Defense?

Does Saturday’s 5-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens have Penguins’ head coach Mike Sullivan already prepared to make a so called ‘sending a message’ scratch in his lineup for Thursday night’s matchup with the Vegas Golden Knights?

[hide] We’re going to look at everything,” Sullivan said on Saturday. We’ll put everything on the table.”

Sullivan noted after the loss ‘It’s Game 2. I’m not going to sit here and overreact.”

Monday’s practice, though, saw the coaching staff make a statement with their defensive corps by demoting Olli Maatta to the 4th pairing and elevating Juuso Kiikola to the third pairing with Jamie Oleksiak.

The other change was Jack Johnson – Justin Schultz anchoring the second pairing in Monday’s skate, a pairing the coaching staff was initially leaning towards early in camp.

What is not yet clear is whether demoting Maatta is just a wake-up call to the player and a one day thing or is it a precursor to Thursday’s game?

“The reality is this business is competitive,” Sullivan said today. “Our team is competitive. We have some guys that we know we can put in the lineup if we so choose that we think can play and help us win games.” [/hide]

The Maatta-Johnson pairing was horrid vs the Canadiens, but a primary reason for the coaching staff strongly leaning towards going away from that pairing for now, is getting Johnson off the right side.

Despite talk from the GM and coaches prior to the season praising Johnson’s versatility to play the right side, sources say the coaches feel Johnson To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!