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Monday Pens Points: End of March Better than Start

Maatta is back and refreshed. Toews is day-to-day with a shoulder injury. Updates from the minors and hottest Pens forward prospect Josh Archibald. Nolan to remain with Sabres. Iron Mike is in Russia these days, and doing well.

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Justin K. Aller

The month of March started very differently from last year's March, with the Pens losing more than winning. They did end it on a 2-game win streak, taking some revenge on the Blackhawks for that outdoor shellacking and winning 4-1.

The Pens played okay against a considerably better possession team missing a few of their key guys as well. Olli Maatta took a 1-game break and came back refreshed.

The biggest story turned out to be a hit Brooks Orpik laid on Jonathan Toews in the second period that resulted in a Toews shoulder injury believed to be day-to-day. All the best to Toews and hope he's back as soon as possible. As for the debate that followed, it was predictable and hollow.

Sunshine is back, and the Pens are a better team for it. After Bennett, the next best thing to come out of the Pens prospect pool at forward is likely to be Josh Archibald. Jonathan Bombulie is one of the best sources on WB/S Penguins, and here are his latest news and notes from the minors.

The Pens have clinched a playoff spot (their 8th in a row, and the third-longest active playoff streak behind Detroit's 22 and San Jose's 10). Now that we're officially in, let's all do a refresher on exactly how the new playoff format works. The ins and outs of the new playoff structure are discussed here.

Ted Nolan has received a contract extension from the Buffalo Sabres and will remain with the organization after having coached this season on an interim basis. Well done.

After almost getting the last laugh on people who think having the puck is important to be successful in hockey, the Toronto Maple Leafs have collapsed yet again, proving they are far from a real contender.

Here's some recommended reading for the end. Make sure you set aside 45 minutes or so, but I promise you won't be disappointed. Grantland's Katie Baker has long delighted me with her writing, particularly reporting from Ufa, Sochi and other Russian places she's traveled to in search of good hockey stories (like the one from St. Petersburg checking in on Ilya Kovalchuk). This piece from Magnitogorsk on Mike Keenan and his success in coaching in Russia might be her best yet: The Cold Never Bothered Him Anyway.