Rob Scuderi has had better nights in his career than last evening's 5-4 overtime loss to the Red Wings. He had a hand in two own-goals which bounced off him, including the winning score in overtime by Red Wings forward Daniel Alfredsson:
Overall, Scuderi has had better seasons. Returning to the Penguins after a four-year absence as a free agent signing this past offseason, Scuderi's 2013-14 campaign has been pockmarked by a broken ankle as well as stretches of play which have led to a relative Corsi number of minus-15.7, fifth lowest on the team.
(Note: Corsi is an advanced statistic which measures puck possession.)
Since the offseason, Scuderi was expected to team up with Kris Letang, a Norris Trophy finalist last season. Injuries to both players, as well as Letang's recent bout with a stroke, have derailed those plans most of the season. As a result, Scuderi has been partnered with a variety of defensemen including Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik and Olli Maatta.
Earlier today, Scuderi was asked to assess his season thus far:
How do you assess yourself this season?
"It’s been strange. I thought the year started out great. I felt good. I felt pretty comfortable coming in which is pretty strange coming into a new team. Usually it takes longer to adjust. After my injury, it took a while for me to get the good feeling back, much longer than I thought. I thought since the Olympic break, I felt much better and playing better. I don’t know what the stats are. Maybe they back it up, but I feel like I’ve been more myself."
You played most of the first month of the season with Niskanen as a partner and appeared to have some success. What worked for you that month?
"Certainly, it’s nice to have some stability with a partner. That’s not the be-all, end-all but it certainly helps. Besides that, I think the biggest thing was our team play. As a group I thought we were grinding down teams instead of trying for different sorts of plays. We just grinded teams down. We’d [the defensmen] would be standing out watching our forwards work the [opponent’s defensemen] down low."
What changed for you after suffering a broken ankle Oct. 26?
"I don’t want to make excuses for myself. I got hurt. It happens to everybody. Certainly when I came back, I think it’s the longest amount of time I ever missed in my career. I don’t deny for a second that it took me longer than I had hoped to get back to normal. I was hoping for five, six, seven games. It was more like 12, 13, 14 … somewhere around there. Almost double the time. Then we have the Olympic break and we don’t play well as a group coming back. After that, I’ve felt pretty good. Last night is kind of a strange night but besides that, I feel like I’ve been coming along."
Was there a flashpoint where you realized or felt you were where you needed to be physically after the injury?
"Yeah. I’d say 12, 13, 14 [games], somewhere around that point, I remember thinking, ‘Okay, I finally fell like myself again.’ I’m not thinking about it. I’m not overthinking. Am I in the right spot? Things that come to you naturally on the ice weren’t happening. It started to come around that point. Kind of unfortunately, we get the Olympic break. You get some time off. It’s nice to have that time but for me personally, from where I was coming from, maybe wasn’t the most awesome time."
Without speaking for Letang's health, do you harbor any hope you'll be able to team up with him as a partner before the end of the regular season?
"I certainly hope so. That was the plan from the beginning of the season. We may have had a total of seven games maybe. I don’t know. It’s definitely not 10. I would be nice to get some games under our belt. Really, the last time we played together, we played three, four games and we were starting to get a good feel and starting to click a little bit. Then he had a pretty serious thing happen to him. We’ve been in a holding pattern ever since."
(Photo: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)