Morning Skate Buzz
Last season the Penguins struggled to find an ideal d-partner for Kris Letang and it was a problem in the 2013 playoffs. The team could still have the same problem with Letang returning tonight.
Management went into the summer and felt Rob Scuderi fell into their laps as the veteran defenseman sought to return to the Eastern Conference and play closer to home
What the Penguins have learned is Scuderi is no longer the defenseman he was four to five years ago. Scuderi, 34, has been a declining player whose foot speed has been a major problem in the Penguins system. The coaching staff has relied heavily on Scuderi on the penalty kill but have used him more as a third pairing defenseman at even strength the last several weeks.
There’s some big question marks if Scuderi can suddenly start elevating his play into the post-season. Playing with a puck mover in Letang will help, scouts believe, but the Penguins could have the same problem they had last year; no ideal d-partner for Letang. Olli Maatta or Matt Niskanen could get a look if Scuderi struggles but the Penguins love Maatta and Niskanen together.
– The Penguins are expected to dress close to a full lineup tonight. Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Brooks Orpik, Ollie Maatta all took regular rushes this morning.