By GTOG Staff (follow Finesse and Artistry on Twitter)
The Pens announced last night that Rob Scuderi is out indefinitely with a broken ankle that will require surgery. Don't bother Googling the standard recovery time from broken ankles unless you want to read a lot of blogs from high school soccer players about their recoveries, but suffice it to say this isn't good. Scuderi had been noticeable for being unnoticeable which is all you can ask for. There were times this season when we forgot he was even on the team. It's difficult to overreact when your 34-year-old defenseman -- who you just signed to 4 year, $13.5 million contract in large part because you figured, hey, he may be 34 but the guy NEVER gets injured, he's just a rock back there -- snaps his ankle in two.
He'll be missed most for something we never got a chance to see -- the effect he would have on Kris Letang. Scuds cannot -- literally, he cannot -- be baited into any sort of run-and-gun style. He may make the occasional mistake, but they are usually due to God-given limitations, not because the opponent is in his head or because nothing is in his head. He is, for better and worse, the polar opposite of Letang. It would have been nice to see if some of his steadiness could have rubbed off on the ol' 58er.
His absence, and presumed trip to long term injured reserve, means two things: occasional available ice time on the blue line for one of the AHLers and cap space. If Scuderi can make it back before the playoffs, both of these things may be good things. We have to assume for the time being that Bobby B and Deryk Engelland will split time as the 6th defenseman, but whatever leftover time remains, here's hoping it goes to Dumoulin and/or Despres. As Olli Maatta is proving, you don't have to endure Wilkes-Barre for years before you are ready for the NHL. Both Dumoulin and Despres are as ready as they'll ever be for legitimate shots at sticking with the big club. Bylsma has to find some time for them, but it's up to them to seize it.
A few thoughts on last night...
- Not only are the Pens 6th best in goals against per game, but they're also 3rd best in shots against per game (25.5) and third in shot differential (+7.2). Last year the Pens gave up 29.2 shots per game in the regular season and 32.7 per game in the playoffs. The best way to prevent another Fleury implosion? Don't make him do anything.
- There was some discussion last night between Steigerwald & Errey that players back in the day were hazed by shaving their pumpkin. Your guess is as good as ours.
- We said a few days ago that Malkin doesn't need any help. Malkin might need some help. He's putting in a lot of minutes with a lot of guys who really aren't anywhere close to his level. Putting an $8.7 million player out there with league-minimum wingers guarantees you aren't getting your $8.7M worth.
- Is James Neal ever coming back? Is James Neal still alive?