After playing more games (13) than any team in the NHL in October, the Penguins finally catch a break in November. The Penguins, not having played since Saturday, will play next on the road in San Jose. While the road trip is still cross-country, the Pens have a chance to give some of their banged up players, such as Jordan Staal, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang, a chance to recover.

Of course, the biggest story surrounds their captain, Sidney Crosby.

Crosby was finally able to take some physical contact yesterday when Deryk Engelland knocked the 24 year old superstar on his backside. While everyone waited with bated breath to see how he would respond, Crosby laughed as he went sliding across the ice at Southpointe. Although he still did not go through rigorous contact drills, the overall process seems to be moving in the right direction as the Penguins are finally able to schedule full practices. Meanwhile, Jordan Staal and Kris Letang were given the day off. Staal has been bothered by an "undisclosed lower body injury" which could be code for "pulled/sore muscle." Head coach, Dan Bylsma, iterated that Staal will travel with the team to California for their two game road trip against the Sharks and Kings.

"He's day-to-day"

Day-to-day in October could have meant missing 3-4 games given the Penguins tough schedule to start the season. The Pens started out in western Canada, playing against the Canucks, Flames and Oilers in a mere four day period. On top of that, they were facing each respective team on their opening nights which would give the team an emotional boost from the excitement of the crowd. Nevertheless, the Penguins went 2-0-1 on their road trip before coming home where they went 1-1-1. After one day off, the Penguins found themselves traveling to Manitoba to take on the Winnipeg Jets where they looked somewhat fatigued and lost 2-1. A rebound win the following night against Minnesota saved the mini road trip before they finished off the month with an impressive 4-1 record.

Since the season began, the Penguins never had more than two consecutive days off, with the "break" coming in the last week of the month (23rd and 24th). On the other hand, they had two separate occurrences where they played on consecutive days. In the end, the team had played 13 games in 24 days including road trips that spanned four time zones. And yet, the Pittsburgh Penguins still managed to finish 8-3-2 with a league leading 18 points. Now, with the team playing just two games in the next 12 days, the Penguins have a chance to reload and relax.

Evgeni Malkin, who has been dealing with some soreness in his surgically repaired right knee, took the Halloween holiday by force according to his twitter account. The Russian superstar posted pictures of himself with Sid in their costumes; Malkin went as mustache boy while Sid was a gladiator. The time at home after spending half of October on the road relaxes the mind along with the body. With Malkin now playing in consecutive games, the early season soreness may be dissipating. With one superstar back, it is only a matter of time until the other one returns as well.

Barring setbacks, it would be a surprise if Sidney Crosby is not playing by the end of the month. Several fans and media outlets have predicted a November 11th return. While it is impossible to tell exactly when he will return, at this point, Crosby will definitely have opportunities to test how his brain reacts to contact. If everything goes well, the best team in the league will get back the best player in the league. However, given the team's success there is hardly any pressure to rush him back. When Sid returns to the lineup, he will be completely healthy and he'll, once again, lead a team that is one of the best in the league. If we thought 8-3-2 was an impressive stretch, just wait until he comes back.

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