Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Laid-Back Scuderi Deflects Shots at Playoff Performance

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Laid-Back Scuderi Deflects Shots at Playoff Performance

Article excerpt

Defenseman Rob Scuderi was one of just a handful of regulars who participated in an optional Penguins practice Saturday at Southpointe, and it wasn't the first time this postseason that the 35-year-old veteran has joined a group of mostly scratched players.

"We had a couple of days off [recently] and optionals the days before," Scuderi said. "You just like to mix it up once in a while and keep the body guessing."

The dry wit of the last part of that comment, which was delivered with a perfectly straight face and a parenthetical shrug, captures Scuderi's personality well.

That personality carries into games, where Scuderi has built a reputation as a steady defensive defenseman who wouldn't know flashy if it cross-checked him in the mouth.

Whether it's because of that style and approach -- Penguins coach Dan Bylsma used the word "unassuming" a few times Saturday -- or a few mistakes that have stood out, Scuderi seems to have become a target of criticism at times this postseason in places such as social media and sports call-in shows. At one point Friday in the Penguins' 5-1 loss to the New York Rangers, former Penguins defenseman and Stanley Cup winner Peter Taglianetti tweeted, "I think it is time for Scuderi to watch a few games from the stands."

While penalty killing in the second period with the Penguins trailing, 3-1, Scuderi got his stick on the puck in the corner, but the Rangers got it back and scored on a blast from the point by Ryan McDonagh.

"We had some unforced errors; his was one of them," Bylsma said. "Penalty kill, we don't get a clear and it ends up in the back of the net.

"That's not the [team's] only mistake in the game."

Bylsma does not concur with those who wonder if Scuderi's performance this postseason has fallen off. Far from it.

"Rob's, I think, probably played some of his best hockey for us in these playoffs this year," Bylsma said.

"Columbus Game 5 and 6 [in the first round], and Game 2 and 4 in this series, he played Rob Scuderi-type of hockey for us. …

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