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Once a shutdown pairing, Scuderi, Gill face off

by John Manasso
NASHVILLE -- Since they won a Stanley Cup together as a defense pair with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Rob Scuderi and Hal Gill have not crossed paths much on the ice.

Scuderi signed with Los Angeles and Gill with Montreal after that 2008-09 season. Since Gill was traded to Nashville, both players are now in the Western Conference. Through a quirk in the schedule, Los Angeles is visiting Nashville for the second time in eight days and Nashville visits the Kings again 11 days from now.

Gill's wife and three children are visiting him this week during a break for the schools in Montreal so he was not able to get together with Scuderi on Monday. Nonetheless, he considers Scuderi, 33, a good friend. (Gill, 36, played his college hockey at Providence College while Scuderi played his at Boston College, but both make their offseason homes in the Boston suburbs.)

Scuderi has 1 goal (his third in the last three seasons) and 7 assists this season and is minus-1 while averaging 20:25 of time on ice. The Kings are ninth in the Western Conference, just a point out of the final playoff spot entering Tuesday's games.

"I think we both see the game pretty similar," Gill said. "Play good defense. Take away passing lanes, take away shot lanes. Try and make the first pass, make it tape-to-tape and support our (defense) partners. For the most part, other than us playing together, we've always been with an offensive guy and we kind of play center defense, I guess."

In consecutive seasons playing against Detroit in the Stanley Cup Final, Gill and Scuderi often matched up against the Red Wings' top offensive players such as Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.

"Usually, we got the big line," Gill said. "It was fun. You have that challenge every game. It gives you something to play for. As a defensive defenseman, you're not going out there and trying to score goals, so you don't get that glory unless you do a good job shutting down their top line."

In '09 during the Cup Final, Scuderi famously misspoke and referred to himself as "the piece" of the puzzle that the Penguins needed to win it all. His teammates then, with mock affection, nicknamed him "The Piece."

"We got on him pretty good because that's not his personality at all," Gill said.

Despite backup goalie Jonathan Bernier's 5-1 lifetime record against Nashville, Kings coach Darryl Sutter said he will go with No. 1 Jonathan Quick in goal on Tuesday because each game is now like a Game 7 for the Kings with 17 games remaining. Quick, who is second in the League in shutouts with seven and third in save percentage at .932, has never beaten the Predators in his career, as he is 0-4-1 against them, losing 2-1 at Bridgestone Arena eight days ago.
Projected lines:
Justin Williams - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown
Dwight King - Mike Richards - Jeff Carter
Dustin Penner - Jarret Stoll - Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford - Colin Fraser - Jordan Nolan
Rob Scuderi - Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell - Slava Voynov
Alec Martinez - Matt Greene
Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier
Out: Brad Richardson, Davis Drewiske, Kevin Westgarth
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