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Here are the 3 biggest takeaways from the Penguins’ Friday afternoon skate in San Jose.

1. Schultz okay after crosscheck

Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz skated after he left in the third period of Thursday’s game following a crosscheck from Dustin Brown.

“I feel fine,” Schultz said. “Everything went well out there, so I’m good to go. I was pretty nervous at first, luckily all the tests went well and a good day on the ice today. I’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”

On the play, Schultz had fallen to his knees facing the boards and was completely defenseless when Brown skated up and leveled him from behind, sending his face into the dasher.

The Kings forward received a five-minute major and a game misconduct, as well as a hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety this afternoon. However, Brown did not receive a suspension, merely receiving a fine of $10,000, the maximum allowable under the CBA.

“The league deals with that, I’m not going to comment and start anything,” Schultz said. “It is what it is. I’m not hurt, so that’s alright. I’ll be back next game.”

Evgeni Malkin also received disciplinary action for a play in the game. He was fined $5,000 for spearing Brown in the first period.

2. Pens monitoring workload

The team stayed the night in Los Angeles following their 3-1 win over the Kings and had an 11 a.m. flight to San Jose this morning. When they landed, one bus went to the team hotel while the other took Schultz, Jean-Sebastien Dea, Daniel Sprong, Ian Cole, Chad Ruhwedel, Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith to the Sharks’ practice facility for a skate.

The Penguins have been taking advantage of every opportunity they have to get rest, especially since entering the second half of the season. For this California swing, they’ve only had one full practice – on Tuesday in Anaheim – and will finish the trip without having held a morning skate for any of the three games.

“We’re obviously trying to monitor our workload and for example, this particular week, we’re in the middle of three games in four nights,” head coach Mike Sullivan explained. “We just had back-to-back games, two pretty tough games against two really good teams. To give them an opportunity to recover today, we felt as though it was really important so that we can be at our best tomorrow.”

3. WBS streaking

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins extended their season-best winning streak to 8 games with a 4-1 win over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Wednesday.

Arguably the most impressive part of that streak is that a number of WBS’ top forwards and both goaltenders they started the season with are currently with Pittsburgh: DeSmith, Jarry, Dea, Sprong and Dominik Simon.

Talking with Dea, who made his season debut on Thursday centering Tom Kuhnhackl and Ryan Reaves, he credited the entire organization from top to bottom for making it easy on guys to slot in wherever they’re needed.

“The whole organization does a great job, starting in Wheeling,” Dea said. “When guys come up they’re ready to play so it makes everything easier. In Wilkes we had good guys down there who work hard. That’s the way we play here in the Pittsburgh organization. We work hard and skate. So that’s why, I think. All three groups of players on the teams make a big group and everybody works hard and helps each other. Every time guys get called up and stuff, they’re ready to go and they know what to do.”

It also helps that WBS head coach Clark Donatelli, who is one of the absolute best people in the game, and first-year assistant coach Tim Army do a tremendous job of finding that balance between development and winning.

“They’re the best, obviously,” Dea said with a smile. “You look at Clarkie, you can’t ask for a better guy to make you feel comfortable. Always there to talk to you and make sure you’re comfortable. Obviously they’re doing a really good job down there.”

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The Pittsburgh Penguins had one of those four-aspirin aftermaths in October, after winning their second consecutive Stanley Cup in June. They gave up 50 goals in 13 games last month, which is one Arizona Coyotes dumpster fire away from being worst in the NHL. The Penguins lost to the Chicago Blackhawks, Tampa Bay Lightning and Winnipeg Jets by a combined score of 24-3. They’ve already expelled their backup goalie and traded for a depth forward.

But they’re 7-5-1. Which is fine, all things considered.

Here are the four major points of concern for the Penguins:

Kris Letang

Letang had an epically bad opening month, with just two even-strength points in 10 games (although he had six on the power play). Letang skated to an NHL-worst minus-14, but seeing as how plus/minus tells you nothing, we’ll go to the possession story: He’s minus-10 in Corsi counts at even strength and has only finished on the negative side of that ledger once in his nine-year career. (The only Penguins defenseman seeing regular time with that kind of shot-attempt deficit is Justin Schultz at minus-24 in 10 games, and he’s currently out with a concussion.)

There’s no question that Letang’s offseason preparation was interrupted by neck surgery, so maybe that’s what has led to a parade of blown coverages and intercepted passes. His 25 giveaways are second-most in the NHL this season.

Yet the Penguins are skating him out like there’s nothing inherently wrong with his game, to the tune of 26:30 on average. It’s been too much, too soon. GM Jim Rutherford told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this week, “He’s coming off a very serious injury. I believe he’s tried to do too much. I believe we’ve played him way too many minutes because we’ve had to with the injuries.”

Their starts stink

The Penguins have been outscored in the first period 21-10, second only to the Montreal Canadiens for opening-period futility. Pittsburgh leads the league in first-period goals surrendered, giving up one more than the New York Rangers (20), whose lack of preparedness in the opening frame has nearly cost coach Alain Vigneault his job.

The Penguins are getting off to slow starts, especially on the road. They’re also 1-4-0 when their opponents score first.

The bottom six

‘Twas a time in recent Penguins history when a general manager was fired for not having the third and fourth lines in order.

This isn’t to suggest that current GM Rutherford is in Ray Shero territory — hell, after two straight Cups, he could probably run for governor were it not what we assume are citizenship requirements — but rather to say that the Penguins’ bottom six is in its weakest state in years.

The losses of Nick Bonino, Chris Kunitz and Matt Cullen will likely be felt most in the postseason, when their heroism during the last two runs to the Cup was invaluable. But Pittsburgh misses them now too: The Penguins have gotten 12 points so far at 5-on-5 from their bottom-six forwards, which is equal to what Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have generated on their own.

Getting Riley Sheahan from the cap-strapped Detroit Red Wings was a solid addition. He’s been fine, although not the ultimate answer at third-line center. While one assumes that Rutherford will need to add some low-cost veteran adornments to his lineup for another Cup run, one hopes that players such as Tom Kuhnhackl and Greg McKegg can hold the fort during the regular season.

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Thoughts, musings and observations from the Penguins’ 4-3 win over the Florida Panthers on Saturday at PPG Paints Arena…

* Panthers goalie James Reimer may have nightmares after this game, and one reason for that is Sidney Crosby. Crosby scored twice in this game, both coming from the side of the net and each being one of those impossible plays he makes look easy. On the first goal – which came on the power play – I saw Crosby sneak to the back door unnoticed. I saw Phil Kessel realize he was there, and wondered if he’d be able to thread that pass diagonally through the slot. I didn’t have to wonder long, as Kessel quickly made a perfect pass that Crosby whacked right into the net. On the second goal, Kris Letang floated a pass that Crosby again chipped out of mid-air, through Reimer’s pads and in. Crosby was the First Star of the game, and his hand-eye coordination should have been the Second Star.

* Reimer is also probably going to have nightmares about Patric Hornqvist. It was a typical day at the office for Hornqvist, who had a game that completely personified his style. He was in and around the crease and making life miserable for the netminder. As a result, Hornqvist got a goal that’s a perfect example of how he plays. Olli Maatta got the puck to the front of the net, where Hornqvist was of course stationed. He then dug at it until he was able to get it past Reimer. While Hornqvist was rewarded that time, he was punished shortly after when he barreled over Reimer and was sent to the box for goalie interference. Hornqvist is back to himself after missing the first three games due to injury.

* The Pens talked a lot about tightening up following their 5-4 loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday, which was one of those defense-optional, back-and-forth track meets. While they were definitely better in that regard tonight, they still have room for improvement. The Panthers had momentum for long stretches of the game, particularly at the beginning of periods, and it resulted in a lot of shots and scoring chances against. The Pens need to do a better job of handling those swings and being a team that’s difficult to play against.

* Matt Murray had a heavy workload, seeing 46 total shots. It was something the Pens had expected after the Panthers put up similar numbers in their previous few games. And it wasn’t just about the quantity of shots for Florida – they had plenty of quality scoring chances as well. Murray handled it well, coming up with a number of big saves to keep his team in the game and allow them to pull ahead. He was particularly impressive in the last minute-plus of play when Florida pulled their goalie for the extra attacker.

* The Pens spent more time in the box than they would’ve liked – Mike Sullivan said he wants his team to cut down on stick infractions – but overall I thought the penalty kill was solid. While they did allow a goal during a sequence where the Pens took two straight penalties in the second period, they also scored a goal during that time as well. Tom Kuhnhackl did particularly impressive work on the play to capitalize on a turnover in the neutral zone that he took to the net, getting taken out on his way there. Greg McKegg picked it up and sniped a backhand. It was his first goal of the season, scored against his former club. He’s been so solid for the Pens, and it was nice to see him finally get one.

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Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens’ win against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena.

* There’s no doubt that Patric Hornqvist is the heart of this Pens team. His grit and enthusiasm are contagious and inspiring. His return to the lineup tonight after missing the first three games of the season due to surgery on his hand gave the team a shot of life.

Hornqvist found his normal spot around the opposing teams crease and helped create two Pittsburgh goals, both on the power play. On that first power-play goal, in which the penalty itself was drawn by Hornqvist, he passed the puck from the side of the goal to Bryan Rust. A net-front battle ensued and Letang would finish off that play.

On the second man-advantage tally, Hornqvist would be the one finishing the play. As Sidney Crosby put a shot on net, a scrum followed for the rebound. Hornqvist dove and took a swat with his stick that knocked the puck into the net for his first goal of the year.

Hornqvist finished the game with two points (1G-1A) and infinite energy. He only has one speed and he was full throttle.

* The Pens power-play units were a bit of a hodgepodge of personnel setups, but the result was three goals on the night. Letang scored his first goal of the season – and first since Feb. 4 at St. Louis – while working with the second unit.

At the tail end of a man-advantage in the second period, the Pens actually had the forward trio of Hornqvist, Crosby and Tom Kuhnhackl. They hooked up to score the Pens’ second goal of the game with a Crosby shot, Kuhnhackl screen, Hornqvist rebound tally.

Pittsburgh opened the third period on the power play and used a unit of Crosby, Hornqvist and Conor Sheary up front with Olli Maatta and Justin Schultz on the backend. Maatta’s shot-pass was re-directed in by Sheary at the crease.

Head coach Mike Sullivan began three power-play opportunities by letting the second unit start and take the majority of the minutes. No doubt a reward for their effort and contributions.

* Heading into tonight’s contest the Caps’ power play had converted on three of their nine opportunities. Last year they boasted the NHL’s third-ranked power play with a 23.1-percent scoring rate. Pittsburgh knew that the key to winning tonight’s game would be the work of its penalty kill.

The PK was up to the task. The Pens killed off all four power-play chances for Washington – and stretched their consecutive kill streak to 17.

* Stick tap to Carl Hagelin for an excellent game. No, he didn’t figure in on the scoring sheet. But he was a factor on the ice. Hagelin’s work on the PK helped the Pens thwart four Caps’ man-advantages. He used his speed to give himself a breakaway chance in the second period. Hagelin also drew a penalty when he poked a puck at the blue line, then forced goaltender Braden Holtby to race for the puck and cover with his glove resulting in a delay of game penalty.

Hagelin will score soon enough. But you can’t knock the effort.

* Pens goalie Matt Murray had a rough opening to the season by allowing 10 goals in the opening 5.5 periods of play. But since then, Murray has allowed just two goals in his last two games, which includes one shutout and a shutout sequence of 105:23 minutes.