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Pens Points: A Date with the Devil(s)

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The Penguins head to New Jersey for a divisional showdown with the Devils looking for a little pay back after last week’s drubbing. Catch up on the latest news before puck drop with today’s Pens Points.

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Eight days after being embarrassed 5-1 at home by the New Jersey Devils, the Penguins will have a chance for a little pay back this evening when they travel to Newark. No starter has been named for the contest but all logic points to Casey DeSmith getting the nod after two solid performances last week.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 PM and will be broadcast on AT&T Sports Network.

Before the game, catch up on the latest news with today’s Pens Points...

So far this season, forward Dominik Simon has been a pleasant surprise for the Penguins on the ice. As one of the only regular players on the team under the age of 25 years old, Simon’s emergence will be key both now and in the future if the Penguins are to have lasting success. [Pensburgh]

Another player who has emerged as a potential star for the Penguins has been defenseman Jamie Oleksiak. Since acquiring him from the Dallas Stars last season, Oleksiak has lived up to the potential everyone thought he had. His ability to play a quiet game on defense it one of the major factors keeping him on the ice. [Trib Live]

After signing a long term contract extension over the summer, forward Bryan Rust has struggled to find his game so far this season. Coming off a big performance on Saturday night, Rust hopes to build confidence and become more productive as the season moves along. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Whatever your interest level in college hockey is, there is one name you should be paying attention to because he could very well be wearing black and gold one day. Nikita Pavlychev stands 6’8” and is currently tearing up opponents for Penn State this season. A former 7th round pick of the Penguins, Pavlychev looks to be developing into a solid NHL prospect. [Pensburgh]

For the Penguins, this has certainly been an uneven start to the new NHL season with a long winning streak and long losing streak under their belt. While you don’t want to put yourself too much in a hold early, this rocky start could be a blessing in disguise for the Penguins as the season heats up. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

We are rapidly approaching the three year anniversary of Mike Sullivan taking over as head coach of the Penguins in December 2015. His track record since taking over is hard to argue with, but his choice in personnel at times can still boggle the mind. [Pensburgh]

Missing the last seven games with a lower body injury suffered back on October 25th against the Flames, center Derick Brassard is making good strides in his recovery an is expected to make his return to the lineup in the near future. [Trib Live]

Following a brief time apart, head coach Mike Sullivan has reunited the Penguins regular top power play unit. The top unit typically includes Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist, and Kris Letang, but Sullivan had split them up in hopes of jumpstarting the power play during the team’s recent slump. [Trib Live]

It has been a few games since Zach Aston-Reese rejoined the Penguins and he seems to be getting his NHL legs back under him. Still just six months removed from a brutal hit that left him injured, Aston-Reese is ready to produce like he knows he can. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Casey DeSmith entered this season as the Penguins backup netminder, but he has impressed in his handful of starts so far. Starts can be few and far between for an NHL backup, but DeSmith knows he has to make the most of each one to keep his job at the highest level. [Penguins]

While DeSmith remains the No. 2 goal behind Matt Murray, Sullivan seems to be sticking with the hot goaltender, which is DeSmith at the moment. Giving the nod to DeSmith tonight in New Jersey seems like the obvious choice, but Sullivan made it clear that this is no indication that he has lost faith in Murray. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

News and notes from around the NHL...

David Pastrnak was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week for his standout performance during last week’s slate of games. Pastrnak recorded seven points in four games, including a hat trick against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. Joining Pastrnak on the weekly podium were Blake Wheeler of the Jets and Claude Giroux of the Flyers. [Stanley Cup of Chowder]

Professional sports are a young man’s game and hockey is certainly no different. As the players get younger trends are bound to change no matter how hard we hold on to the tradition of the game. A new wave of young talent coming into the league brings its own quirks, some of which anger veterans still in the room. [Washington Post]

After skipping the Olympics in 2018, the NHL looks poised to bring back the World Cup of Hockey for another go around in 2020. Reports says the league and the NHLPA are already in discussions about a 2020 version of the tournament. [NHL]