The Penguins figure to have some different looks on defense tonight. According to a source, defenseman Rob Scuderi did not participate in today's optional morning skate due to an illness. If he is absent for the game, Adam Clendening would slot in.
Clendening hasn't played for nearly a month. His last game was a 2-0 home win against the Senators Oct. 15. He had 13:16 of ice time, one shot and four penalty minutes.
He estimated this is the longest he has ever gone without playing during a season at any level of play. Given the team's recent's success, he realized why there has been a lack of change on defense:
"I understand where the coaches are coming from. You don't really mess something up when you've won I think it's 10 of our last 12 or nine of our last 10 or whatever it is. It's a lot. I understand where they're coming from. It is what it is."
-Even if Scuderi is available tonight, Clendening could get into the lineup with the team playing three games in four nights according to head coach Mike Johnston:
"As far as looking the need to make a change, he may get in here with three [games] in four [nights]. Those are always times you look at that a little bit closer when you look at three in four nights. But we just didn't want to force him back into the lineup if we thought our defense was doing a good job and they were in a rhythm as far as our pairs go. But it's always something we discuss for sure."
Defensemen Kris Letang (above) and Olli Maatta appear set to be paired together tonight. They worked together for part of practice yesterday. They seemed set to be paired together to start the season. They practiced together quite a bit during training camp and would even stay on the ice working on their passing for upwards of a half hour after practice somedays. Then at some point, the coaching staff abandoned those plans.
-Given their steady and reliable play as of late, the coaching staff doesn't want to break up Ben Lovejoy and Brian Dumoulin.
-The Blue Jackets are in town. They are trying to turn their season around after a rotten start with new coach John Tortorella. Left winger Brandon Saad, a Gibsonia native, talked about adjusting to Tortorella's demanding manner:
"I didn't know too much about him [prior to him taking over the Blue Jackets]. You hear things but I never met him personally or anything like that. Talking to a couple of guys and getting to meet him, he really cares about his players and wants to get the best out of his players and teach them as much as he can. I think he's done a good job so far. I've like him a lot. It's still been early but we've got a long way to go."
-Tortorella talked about his former colleague Mike Sullivan, currently the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins head coach. Sullivan used to work as an assistant coach for Tortorella with the Lightning, Rangers and Canucks. Tortorella was effusive in his praise of Sullivan:
"He is very cerebral about the game. Really good [at] understanding the Xs and Os. Understanding the athletes. And I think he relates well to players too. He's the full package. Not because he worked with me but I think he is one of the most underrated coaches around. He should be back in this league sometime. He has strengths everywhere in coaching. The great thing about him is he's a better person. I think he is going to do wonders for that organization because of just how he handles peoples. He's very good with people also."
(Photo: Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)