Inside Pittsburgh Sports

When Ray Shero gave Rob Scuderi a four year contract in the summer of 2013, Shero and the coaching staff at the time eyed Scuderi as the ideal d-partner for Kris Letang to give Letang a needed safety valve on the ice.

Things never played out that way, the two have barely played with each other since the signing, but now a couple years later, a different coaching staff has the same thinking, at least for one game tonight vs the Colorado Avalanche.

Scuderi was officially scratched Tuesday night due to an illness and probably should not have played over the weekend vs New Jersey as he was sick as a dog.

He will be back in the lineup tonight and in a pretty prominent role, paired with Kris Letang as the Penguins top pairing.

“I don’t think [playing with Letang] is anything too big,” Scuderi said via “That’s why you have a system. You’re going to have some wrinkles you’ll have to work out from time to time, but I’m thinking we’ll be OK.”

Mike Johnston today cited looking for balance in his pairs and feels the presence of Scuderi can let Letang play more offensively.

“At times when you’re putting D pairs together, you’re trying to get some balance,” Mike Johnston said today. “Rob Scuderi, he’s known for his defensive play and Kris is known for his offensive play.

“It was a decision to put Rob there as a bit of an anchor to solidify that pair and then Kris has a chance to jump up and create knowing he’s got a safety valve [in Rob Scuderi] there.”

NHL Chatter: Pens not shopping Hornqvist for defense; Bonino in Play

Talk coming out of last week’s NHL GM Meetings is Jim Rutherford is on the hunt for a top-6 left winger and a top-4 D who’s a minutes eater.

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Penguins winger Daniel Sprong will be a healthy scratch tonight. Sprong played just 5:11 vs the Wild and had one shift in the third period…….Gabriel Landeskog returns to the lineup tonight for Colorado. Landeskog will skate on the Avs top line with Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene…….Former Penguin Blake Comeau has 1 goal and 4 assists in 18 games for the Avalanche. Comeau is the second line left winger tonight…….