Originally posted on The PensNation  |  Last updated 3/22/14
By: Casey Johnston (@PensNationCasey) Is Rob Scuderi That Bad? When Rob Scuderi was brought back from the L.A. Kings last summer, many saw it as a signal that the Penguins would be a more defensively-focused team.  The hiring of Jacques Martin seemed to confirm this.  While the Penguins have become more of a defense-oriented team, some are questioning whether Scuderi is living up to the legend he left behind after the 2009 Stanley Cup run.  Thursday’s loss to the Detroit Red Wings was a brutal night that saw Scuderi on the ice for three goals against in 17:43 of ice time.  Not even Olli Maatta, the guy whose very presence seems to lift the play of whomever he’s partnered with, could help Scuderi. Through 40 games played, Scuderi is third among Penguin defensemen in goals against per 60 minutes of even strength time, and he’s playing against the toughest competition behind Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin.  He’s third on the team in blocked shots despite his lengthy injury.  He’s also third among Penguin defensemen in PK time per game.  The numbers say Scuderi is having a decent year, but there’s a certain something about his play that is making him a lightning rod for criticism.  Perhaps it’s his most-visible mistakes resulting in pucks in the back of the net.  Maybe it’s just him just showing his age.  Whatever it is, this is not the Rob Scuderi that most fans thought they would be getting. Crunch Time for MAF As the regular season nears its end, the Penguins will be playing six more games against conference opponents.  Of those six games, five feature opponents that have a realistic chance of making the playoffs.  With 13 total games remaining, it’s possible that Marc-Andre Fleury will play in 9 more games this season (assuming he and Jeff Zatkoff split the back-to-back games).  As Bob Errey noted on Tuesday night, this will give Fleury a chance to see most of his potential first and second opponents before the season ends.  Since he didn’t make the Canadian Olympic team, Fleury is well rested.  He’s also on pace to finish with 64 games played, his lowest since the2008-09 season.  Thanks for Zatkoff and his 11 wins in 16 games, the Penguins were not only in position to sit Fleury for a few extra games this season, but they can now play him down the final stretch so he has momentum to carry into the playoffs. Lightning Still Near the Top The Tampa Bay Lighting have not done things the easy way this season.  Whether it was losing Steven Stamkos less than 25 games into the season or Martin St. Louis suddenly demanding a trade, the Lightning have faced diversity and battled through it to find themselves still near the top of the Eastern Conference.  A large amount of credit has to be given to goaltender Ben Bishop.  In 55 games, he has won 34 games.  He has a save percentage of .927 and a goals against average of 2.17.  It’s not surprising that he has found himself in the Vezina Trophy discussion. Depending on how things turn out, the Lightning are a possible first round matchup for the Penguins.  This will be the first time they have seen the Lightning since the trade that sent Martin St. Louis to New York for Ryan Callahan.  This will also be the last time these two teams meet in the regular season, so pay attention because this may not be the last time you see this matchup.
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