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10 Thoughts on the Penguins

Random nuggets and stories about Sidney Crosby's start, how the coaching staff is using him and more around the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

#1- First and foremost, everyone's heart goes out to Olli Maatta. But just think about how he knew about this diagnosis and still has played the first seven games of the season. The 3 point game on opening night. Beating Pavel Datsyuk and scoring versus Detroit. Playing 20 minutes a night. All coming off the shoulder surgery that limited him in pre-season too. All things considered, what an impressive young man. Hopefully all will go well and he will be back playing hockey ASAP.

#2- But life goes on and the NHL season won't pause for Maatta's surgery. Luckily it looks like Robert Bortuzzo will be back very soon, but who should be the Pens #7? Still Scott Harrington?  His EZ Pass to go from Pittsburgh to Wilkes-Barre ($30 bucks one way, by the way) is going to get worn out this year.

#3- With 2 more games to go this month, Sidney Crosby could set his personal mark for Best October ever. El Sid has 12 points (5g+7a) in the first 7 games- not bad considering he had a 2 game scoreless streak in the middle of it. Crosby's best October for total points was last year (8g+13a in 13 games), which he won't touch this fall, but his best points/game October was scoring 15 in 9 games for 1.67 way back in 2006. His other Octobers? 1.25 points/game in 2010, 1.14 in 2009, 1.18 in 2008, 1.55 in 2007 and 1.27 his rookie year.

#4- Considering Crosby's career points/game is 1.40, he's usually a slow starter by his own standards then- with only 3 October's above that mark (2006, 2007, 2013), with 4 years starting out under that mark- but to be fair, it's not like it has been by a lot.

#5- One final Crosby note; he only took 9 faceoffs in Nashville and for the season has only taken 134 (19 a game). Quite the departure from last year when he took 1,887 faceoffs (23.5 per game)- a total of 100+ more than anyone else in the entire league. Last year Crosby's career low in a game was 10, but he only took less than 15 faceoffs in a game twice. This year his usage early has been a lot more palatable. Hopefully keeping some of those miles and minutes off him early might lead to a little more gas in the tank later in the season.

#5- Most shocking stat about New Jersey so far in this young season? 3.00 goals per game against, only 18th in the league. In years past they've been 6th, 13th, 9th, 9th, 1st and 4th in this stat and with Martin Brodeur dropping off and out, most expected them to pick it back up.

#6- Second most shocking stat about New Jersey? 3.12 goals per game for, good for 8th in the league so far. Compare that to years past lackluster 27th, 28th, 15th, 30th, 19th and 14th rankings in the same stat. It may not prove wise in the long haul to give 32 year old Mike Cammalleri $5 million for 5  years and a full no-trade clause, but the move has paid off early (5 goals, 2 assists in 8 games) giving NJ's first line a badly needed shoot-first option with Travis Zajac and Jaromir Jagr.

#7- Speaking of Jagr (and I could do that all day), he's up to 6th all-time in career points (1761) and is 10 away from tying Marcel Dionne for 5th and Ron Francis in 4th only sits 37 points ahead of Jagr. Jagr is 7th all-time in goals (707), and his next one will tie Mike Gartner for 6th. Fifth place Phil Esposito is 10 goals ahead of Jags. If Jagr comes back next season, he realistically could make a run at passing Brett Hull for 3rd in goals (741) and even third place Gordie Howe in points (1850). Either way, some seriously ridiculous numbers that has him in the pantheon of the greats.

#8- After putting up 24 goals and 22 assists in 2010-11 in a big role for a last place Islanders team, Blake Comeau has bounced around the league from Calgary to Columbus to now Pittsburgh. Since that breakout year, Comeau only scored 16 goals and 27 assists in 177 games (.24 points per game). This year, he's got 1g+3a in early returns that suggest he might have a little more of that scoring touch back. His role might vary, but the longer Comeau gets a chance to take a shift on Evgeni Malkin ‘s line, the longer he has a chance to play his simple, physical game and try to make the most of the opportunity.

#9- Some whispering that Lars Eller might be available in Montreal with Alex Galyenchuk going to center now. Eller, a center by trade, probably doesn't fit with the Pens if they plan to keep Brandon Sutter, but Eller has shown a lot more offensive flair; he scored 30 points (8g+22a) in 46 games of the lockout season and was one of Montreal's best players (5g+8a) in the playoffs last year. It's probably not a great fit in Pittsburgh, but Eller's locked in for $3.5 million for the next four seasons. Worth keeping an eye on, but might have been a juicier lead under the Pens previous administration where strength down the middle was so stressed by management.

#10- Finally, not to pick on the team, but if tonight's bobblehead didn't have the #58 on it, would you know who it was supposed to be? Can't say I would. Glad the Penguins are doing more and mostly cooler giveaways to the fans lately, though, can't knock them for that.