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Pens Points: Devils Are the Next Challenge

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Crosby struggling on faceoffs. Maatta steady and excellent, should we still be surprised? First brawl of the season involves John Scott, how is that even possible?

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Good morning one and all,

After an excellent road game against the Predators on Saturday, the Pens return home to face the always-maddening New Jersey Devils tomorrow night. The Devils are currently 4-2-2 and have won four of five road games. Time to make it stop.

Here are the five things we've learned about the Devils so far. Cory Schneider will presumably play all 82 games. Oh, it's also Kris Letang bobblehead night.

Sidney Crosby has 5 goals and 12 points in 7 games. He's been great so far, with the only glitch showing in the faceoff circle, where he's currently clicking at 46.3%. Mike Johnston is doing a smart thing by not having Crosby take ridiculous numbers of draws like Bylsma did. So far under 20 per game.

Olli Maatta is back in the groove following an off-season shoulder surgery, and sophomore slumps be damned, this kid is still as steady as ever. We drafted a 17-year-old in June 2012 and here he is, on a top pairing with Kris Letang 28 months later. Incredible.

I find it ridiculous that the subject was even brought up, but here is why trading Malkin makes zero sense. His production would be impossible to replace and there is no return that would even approach the value lost. Make it stop.

So far it was all quiet on the suspension front, but after Sunday's brawl in the Ducks-Sharks game it may end. Sharks' John Scott put in a solid night's work with 22 PIM for 2 fighting majors, instigator, leaving the bench and a game misconduct. He left the bench on a legal line change, though, and Rule 73 doesn't call for an automatic suspension.

The Blue Jackets rotten luck continues. On Sunday Nick Foligno was taken off on a stretcher following a scary collision with a linesman, which former ref Paul Stewart says could have been prevented by better positioning on the part of the linesman. On Friday Cam Atkinson narrowly escaped a serious eye injury after Ryan Kesler's skate opened a 3-inch cut on his face. All that comes on top of the sad conclusion that Nathan Horton's hockey career is very likely over due to a serious back injury.

Minnesota Wild continue to play very well, with all four lines clicking. They only played 6 games so far, so they're not at the top of the standings points-wise, but they are playing seriously good hockey in the early goings.

The Bruins are tied with Carolina and Winnipeg for the second-most losses so far this season. They are facing a really tough task in trying to replace Zdeno Chara's minutes for the next 4-6 weeks he is expected to be out. Even with that, Joe Morrow was assigned back to Providence.

Paul Bissonnette will not be going to Cardiff after all, as he's been offered a contract with the Coyotes' AHL affiliate in Portland and is expected to sign it today.

Eric Staal has no intention of waving his NTC and insists he plans to stay with the only team he's ever played for, the still-winless Hurricanes.

A feel-good story for the end. Blackhawks backup goalie Scott Darling took a long road to the NHL, with 12 stops in the minors over the last five seasons. Yesterday, the Lemont, Ill. native earned his first NHL win for the team he grew up watching and rooting for.