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Why Scuderi deserves the Norris

Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Norris goes to the best all-around defenseman each season. The winner is often the most offensive d-man during the regular season, or at least among those with the highest offensive output.


1.causing someone to feel resentful, upset, or annoyed.

2.actively aggressive; attacking.

And at the moment, there are probably not many d-men playing more offensive hockey than Rob Scuderi.

Slow descent

During the 2009 playoffs, Rob Scuderi saw more even strength minutes than every Penguins player not named Brooks Orpik.

During the 2012 playoffs, Rob Scuderi saw more even strength minutes than every LA Kings player not named Drew Doughty.

That has changed. Now, 3 years later, every Penguins d-man plays more even strength minutes than Scuderi. It's a trend that already started last season, with Scuderi's minutes mostly being pushed up due to injuries to the d-men ahead of him in the lineup. From Micah Blake McCurdy, a visualization of how the Penguins used their d-men in 14-15:

The Penguins never really were great with him in the lineup last season, but his continued decline and their apparent changed approach to their systems has exposed him even further.

In fact, 5 of his 15 worst CF% games in the recent two seasons have come in the last few weeks.

In the last 7 games, the Penguins have had a 43 CF% with Scuderi on the ice. To put that into perspective: the worst team in the NHL has a 44 CF% so far. Without him on the ice, the Penguins have a 52.8 CF% in that span.

And it's getting worse. In his last 4 games, Scuderi has a 34.6 CF%. Again, some perspective: one of the best penalty killers this season so far, Max Pacioretty, has a 32.25 CF% while playing shorthanded. Furthermore, Scuderi has been on the ice for 40% of all scoring chances the Penguins have allowed in their last 4 games at even strength. That's more than what Letang has been on the ice for, despite playing almost twice as much as Scuderi.

He negatively affects almost everyone he is playing with. In the last two games, Crosby has played a little over 30 minutes at even strength. Over 7 of those came with Scuderi on the ice.

  • Crosby with Scuderi (ca.7 min TOI): 1 shot attempt for, 11 against, 8 CF%
  • Crosby without Scuderi (ca. 25 min TOI): 27 shot attempts for, 26 against, 51 CF%

While on the penalty kill, only 5 teams have a CF% worse than 8% this season. So 25 teams have had a better shot attempt differential while playing one man short than when Crosby and Scuderi played together.

For comparison, here is how Crosby's numbers look while playing with Kris Letang in the last two games:

  • Crosby with Letang (ca. 15 min TOI): 15 shot attempts for, 10 against, 60 CF%


Scuderi isn't the cause of every problem the Penguins have. But at the moment, the Penguins aren't playing well enough to overcome his bad performance. Just like the powerplay struggles get magnified due to the lack of even strength scoring, so does a struggling 3rd pairing d-man when most of the rest of the lineup is struggling, too. While Scuderi isn't the cause of every problem, he isn't helping to solve them, and is actually actively making most of them worse.

He isn't helping the struggling Crosby to produce, he isn't helping the Penguins to be better offensively, and he isn't helping them do be better defensively, either.

Replacing him with one of Pouliot or Clendening won't fix everything, but both of them at least have the potential to positively affect the team going forward. It's clear that Scuderi won't. Though taking Scuderi out of the lineup is just one of many steps the Penguins will need to make to improve, it's looking like an important one.