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Penguins notebook: Nova Scotia natives Crosby, MacKinnon to square off

| Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013, 6:21 p.m.
Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) celebrates his goal during the second period against the Capitals on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013, in Washington.

Nova Scotia's favorite son will battle its newest star Monday at Consol Energy Center.

Center Sidney Crosby, the first pick of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, will battle Nathan MacKinnon, the first pick in 2013.

MacKinnon, 18, grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and lived 30 minutes from Crosby's hometown, Cole Harbour.

Crosby trained with MacKinnon during the summer and came away impressed.

“I knew about him a little bit before,” Crosby said. “I got to know him the past couple of years and train with him a bit. He's doing really, really well. It's nice to see.”

MacKinnon has produced one goal and seven points in his first eight games.

Crosby noted MacKinnon's physical gifts.

“He obviously skates really well,” Crosby said. “You don't see too many young guys who can shoot a puck like he can. He's got a great shot. He has all the tools, really good hands. And he works hard and isn't afraid to get into traffic.”

Crosby can relate to the pressure of being a No. 1 pick. He told the youngster this summer to simply enjoy the season, explaining that he'll remember this campaign forever.

“I think he's adjusted well, and he's obviously doing well,” Crosby said. “He's prepared for this.”

Saint Patrick?

Colorado coach Patrick Roy has made a splash during his first season as an NHL coach.

The legendary goaltender has not led the Avalanche not only to an unexpected 7-1 start but he also has received plenty of attention because of his altercation with Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau during Colorado's opening night.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma simply chuckled when reminded of the incident.

Bylsma played against Roy, not that he expects the former Montreal and Colorado star to remember those instances.

“I know when I played my first game against Mario Lemieux. I'm not sure if he knew the first time he played against Dan Bylsma. It might be the same with Patrick,” Bylsma said.

Almost there?

Defenseman Kris Letang was one of 11 players to participate in Sunday's optional practice. He hasn't played this season, but Bylsma said Letang is “getting close” to returning to the lineup.

Jeffrey wants more action

Dustin Jeffrey has been a healthy scratch in recent games in place of Deryk Engelland, who temporarily has been converted from defense to forward.

Sitting out clearly doesn't sit well with Jeffrey.

“This is the position I've been in for three years,” he said. “I've gotten used to it. But obviously I'd prefer to be in the lineup every night, get into a groove of playing.”

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jyohe@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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