The Penguins did themselves a big favor by taking five of a possible six points on a three-game swing through Western Canada. Defenseman Kris Letang, who figures to be a serious Norris Trophy candidate this season, led the way with a goal and 4 assists while playing an average of 27:08 per game.
The Senators and Blue Jackets have the next busiest October schedules, each playing 12 games. Based on their respective starts, that scheduling isn't going to be very kind to their playoff aspirations.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Capitals, Islanders, Devils, Red Wings and Flames share the lightest opening month load, each playing nine games. You better rest up, boys, that schedule is going to catch up with you somewhere between November and mid-April.
"It's a day-to-day thing," Shero said. "It was something that was nagging him for a few days and we want to be smart with him."
SOG: 3 | +/-: -1
As of Monday evening, Malkin wasn’t ruled out of tonight’s home opener against the Panthers. That decision could come after the morning skate or prior to game time.
The GM explained that once that does happen (and he's expecting it will at some point), the team will wait for Crosby to express to them a feeling that he's 100-percent ready to go before returning him to game action.
The club's busy early-season schedule hasn't been a plus for Crosby. With all the games, he isn't getting the high-quality practice time that he was enjoying during the preseason. Over the last several days, he's been working with just a handful of players as opposed to a full-team practice.
DeBoer did get his first victory behind the New Jersey bench Monday, when the Devils beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 in Newark.
MacLean and Noel, meanwhile, hope to get on the right side of things ASAP. The Senators will seek their first win of the new season Tuesday in their home opener against the Wild. The Jets, meanwhile, will have a tougher task, traveling into Chicago to challenge the Hawks on Thursday.
In the early going, at least, Smith is meeting some of those expectations. The 22-year-old Madison, Wisc., native, the 98th pick in the 2009 draft, had 2 goals and 2 assists in back-to-back road wins against Central Division rivals Columbus and St. Louis. Not bad!
After two seasons at the University of Wisconsin, Smith opened some eyes when he was chosen to represent the U.S. at the World Championship last spring. The 6-foot-1, 197-pounder could provide a huge scoring boost to the offensively-challenged Predators.
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff used Adam on the club's top line, flanked by Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville. The trio combined for 5 goals and 13 points in victories against the Ducks and Kings.
SOG: 3 | +/-: 3
A native of St. John's, Nfld., the 6-2, 203-pound Adam was a 2008 second-round pick. Last season, he earned AHL Rookie of the Year honors, scoring 29 goals and 62 points in 57 games with Portland.
While Ruff was impressed with Adam's start, he knows it's just that -- a start. "It's only two games, but we'd love to see him continue to improve."
Girardi played 30:18 in the season-opening overtime loss to the Kings, and a day later he was even busier, playing 31:25 in a shootout loss against the Ducks. For the mathematically challenged, that's a league-high average of 30:51.
In the club's opening two games, Doughty is averaging 27:49 per game. That ranks him third in the League (through Monday's games) behind Girardi and Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell, who has played in just one game.
In his first two games, Doughty had an assist and he was credited with four shots on goal. Doughty and his teammates make their North American debut in New Jersey on Thursday.
SOG: 4 | +/-: 2
If the Blues are going to make a playoff push this season -- and I think they are -- Pietrangelo will be a big part of it.
They really need to turn things around against the visiting Avalanche on Wednesday. After that, the Jackets have a home-and-home with the Stars. I'm thinking they need to get five out of six points to really stop the bleeding.