|Rob Scuderi will play his former team, the Pittsburgh Penguins with whom he won the Stanley Cup last season, for the first time.
When defenseman Rob Scuderi
looks at the team occupying the bench next to the Kings tomorrow night at STAPLES Center, he will see two things. Scuderi Interview
The first thing will be the team that drafted him in the fifth round of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
And the second thing he will see is the team the Kings wish to one day become.
"We're a team that's hoping to become what they are," Scuderi said. "They are battle tested, proven winners, and that's something we're trying to develop in this locker room. Hopefully we can become them. That's really what we're trying to do here."
Scuderi and the Kings will welcome the Penguins and their 7-0-0 road record tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. in a game that promises to entertain and holds a number of intriguing storylines.
Chief amongst them will be Scuderi facing his former team for the first time. After spending five seasons with the Penguins, including last season's memorable run to the Stanley Cup, Scuderi signed as a free agent with the Kings in the summer.
When asked what he believes his emotions might be tomorrow night, he admitted that he was unsure.
"I've never done it before so I guess to be honest I don't know what to expect," Scuderi said. "I think it'll be a little funny. Certainly I've played with a lot of those guys and we've kind of grown as a team and had obviously have achieved the ultimate success at the NHL level. So it should be a little weird but at the same time I've got new teammates and all these guys have pretty much welcomed me since day one. Although it might be a little weird I don't feel too funny about the situation.
Scuderi played a large role in the Penguins' success in the postseason last year, making a name for himself blocking shots on the defensive end.
Through the first month of the season, Kings coach Terry Murray has seen that same effort, and more, from Scuderi.
"I love the way he plays on the defensive side of the game," said Murray, a former NHL defenseman. "That's his strength, obviously. He's got great mobility in stick and takes a great deal of pride in just shutting things down, getting stick on puck, deflecting and breaking up plays, blocking shots. He's given us everything that we've expected."
One aspect of Scuderi's game, which Murray said has been a surprise, is his vocal leadership. Murray pointed to the Kings' 5-3 win over Phoenix on Monday as an example. With the Kings down 3-2 heading into the second intermission, Scuderi spoke with the team and pointed to areas in which the team needed to improve upon if they wanted to win the game.
Three third-period goals and a win later, it seems as if Scuderi's words had an impact.
"When you got the job done, everybody's listening (and) credibility is high," Murray said.
Scuderi said that there is no bitterness between himself and the franchise that drafted him in 1998, emphasizing that its difficult to have hard feelings after winning the Stanley Cup.
"It's one of the things that happens; it's part of the business," Scuderi said. "Like I said, I was very confident in my decision that I was coming to a place that would also have a good team because I didn't want to play for a team that was going to be in last place."
The Penguins come into their game against the Kings playing at very high level, amassing a perfect record on the road so far this season. Despite the friendships he still has with many on the team, and what they were able to accomplish together last season, Scuderi said he has no hard feelings if he and the Kings deal the Penguins their first road loss of the season tomorrow night.
"They're a very good team and it figures to be a really good test for us, see where we are because they haven't had too many blips in the radar screen this year," Scuderi said. "We're a team hoping to give them one."
FROLOV RETURNS TO PRACTICE
A day after missing practice for a therapy day, forward Alexander Frolov returned to practice Wednesday.
Frolov practiced on the line with center Michal Handzus and winger Wayne Simmonds.
Frolov sat out yesterday with a sore hip flexor, and the 27-year old forward said that he feels great and will play tomorrow against the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
KOPITAR AND SID THE KID
Along with the emotions of Scuderi facing his former team, another great part of tomorrow's game against the Penguins will be the battle between two of the NHL's offensive leaders.
Kings center, and the NHL's scoring leader, Anze Kopitar will faceoff against the Penguins' Sidney Crosby, regarded as one of the top players in the league.
"Sidney's a great player," Kopitar said. "Everybody knows that. Me, I'm fortunate to be up there right now but the season's still long and it's got nothing to do with Kings-Penguins game tomorrow. It's nice if I can get a couple points and just help my team win."
Through 15 games, Kopitar leads the NHL with 24 points on 11 goals and 13 assists. According to him, he doesn't know why exactly he has had the great early success hes had. Crosby is 16th in the league with 16 points (nine goals, seven assists).
"I can't really find a reason," Kopitar said. "It's just a matter of going on and playing hard every night. Things are just going my way right now and hopefully they're going to keep coming."