#1 A lot of fans wonder if there's a possibility for Rob Scuderi to be a healthy scratch once the team returns to full health. And, for good reason- Scuderi is the least mobile, worst puck-moving defenseman on a blueline that is otherwise built around those attributes. Also, despite Scuderi's perception as a good penalty killer, he ranks last on the team in Corsi against and goals against / 60, suggesting that he's not as adept at helping as his reputation indicates.
The reason it probably won't happen? Look no further than a single letter. Stitched on Scuderi's chest these past few games that Evgeni Malkin has been hurt. It's a big, block A, and a clear sign that the coaches see him as a team leader and a veteran that they will count on down the stretch.
#2 That said, how did they get to that conclusion? What is said when video is reviewed and time and again teams target Scuderi on the rush. When they chip pucks past him and skate right by him, preying on his weak skating to generate chances, if not outright goals (the goal the Devils scored last week looms large in memory). How is there such a disconnect between Scuderi's perception among the coaches as a dependable, reliable team leader and the output he's providing as a drain in shots and goals against?
#3 The recently leaked report (that has since been refuted) that the Penguins are unhappy with Craig Adams and Beau Bennett and might look to replace them with minor league call-ups for the playoffs was a hoot. First, this team sure does seem to have a lot of leaks from the front office, doesn't it? Secondly, the report is probably half-true. The team certainly can't be happy with Adams (a frequent healthy scratch this month) and Bennett (who's been unproductive and now relegated to the 4th line, ensuring he'll stay that way) have been giving.
But minor league call-ups or young guys from Europe are not going to be the answer. Bryan Rust looked lost in 14 NHL games, Jayson Megna skates out of town after a 4 penalty game, Scott Wilson couldn't even complete his first NHL game due to an injury, Kasperi Kapanen is in a huge scoring slump in Sweden and like Oskar Sundqvist has 0 North American experience. None of these guys are the answer to the Pittsburgh Penguins problems in the spring of 2015. None are even close to being in the neighborhood.
#4 It will be fun to watch all those players though in the AHL playoffs, especially since it looks like Kapanen and Sundqvist very well could be playing roles for Wilkes-Barre. Also, as a WB/S note: goalie Matt Murray broke a 72 year old league rookie shutout record with his 10th clean sheet of the year, which is even better considering Murray's only played in 34 games this season. Murray is 16-2-1 in his last 19 games, just an amazing stretch right now which should be fun to see how long he can keep rolling with it.
#5 A lot to agree with in this CBS piece that Sidney Crosby impresses even in his most frustrating healthy season. Crosby's got the best points per game piece in the league, and currently leading the circuit in scoring. It'll be a tight race down the stretch, but the Penguins play 1 more game than the Islanders and Capitals. Assuming no injury, as we've written before, Sid's in excellent position to add up another scoring title. Which, of course, isn't the main point of the season, but it still should be recognized and enjoyed by fans. They're not easy to win, as this year has shown.
#6 Chris Kunitz has 2 goals in the 26 games since the All-Star break. Blake Comeau only has 4 goals in 19 since returning from a broken wrist (which troubles me, since he knows it won't be 100% again this season). If those two key supporting players can't score in the playoffs, can the Pens advance?
#7 If they can't find the net, that's going to put a lot more pressure on Patric Hornqvist and David Perron to pick up the slack. Crosby and Malkin will drive possession and they will generate a lot of chances, but they have to have help in the postseason.
#8 Food for thought- two beloved ex-Penguins (Simon Despres and Marcel Goc) were healthy scratches by their respective teams over the weekend. Slightly less beloved Robert Bortuzzo was too.
#9 Saw some wondering and shots taken at the Pens for cancelling a practice over the weekend, but they really had no choice. The CBA dictates that players have to have so many rest days and they were always scheduled to be off on Friday. Had to be. Logistically there was no morning skate in Phoenix since the arena is located 45 minutes from where the team stays, compounded by a 6 PM local start time. Not a big deal, really, even though those factors probably contributed to the awful start the Pens had. Wasn't too much they could have done differently.
#10 But they did stick to schedule of skating last night, right after flying home from Phoenix, which I found interesting. So for all the concerns and fears about the coaching staff I still have, them not working the team hard enough is not one. That's probably the least of the concerns when you look at the power play, injuries and scoring issues of this month.