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Penguins notebook: Scuderi OK with new defensive system |

Penguins notebook: Scuderi OK with new defensive system

Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi skates in the first period of a preseason game against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday, Sept. 22, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.

Defensemen often complained about the complexity of former coach Dan Bylsma’s system.

The early reviews of new coach Mike Johnston’s system have been favorable, and the most experienced defenseman in the Penguins lineup said he thinks the simplistic approach to this system could be a positive thing.

“It’s not completely different from Dan’s system,” defenseman Rob Scuderi said. “But sometimes when you’re going back to get the puck, it’s nice to have two options in your head instead of maybe three or four. It makes a big difference.”

In theory, Scuderi doesn’t seem like the style of defenseman that Johnston prefers. The coach likes defensemen who jump into the play and generate puck movement at a fast tempo.

Those attributes hardly define Scuderi, who is very much a stay-at-home defenseman.

“But that’s OK,” Scuderi said. “I’ve got no problem with this system. No issues for me. When we get to our blue line, that’s usually the end of my offensive contribution. But I’m still able to offer support up until our blue line. That’s what all coaches are promoting.”

Scuderi said Penguins defensemen are still getting a feel for the new system.

“Every system has its own wrinkles,” Scuderi said. “With this system, on video, everything looks so easy. But it’s still another thing to change course in your head until it becomes habit.”

Anaheim defenseman Ben Lovejoy said Bylsma’s system was a “thing of beauty” when executed properly, but that it was vulnerable to a scoring opportunity if even the smallest of mistakes was made.

“I didn’t necessarily think that system was horribly complicated,” Scuderi said. “But I do think there is a little less thinking required in this system.”

Crosby expected to return

Center Sidney Crosby is expected to play on Monday in Minnesota. He missed Saturday’s game against Columbus because of his grandmother’s death.

Crosby has said playing preseason games is crucial to his ability to be ready for the season.

While Crosby is fully recovered from an injury that apparently hampered him early in camp, fellow center Evgeni Malkin remains sidelined.

Malkin is not expected to participate in either of the team’s final two exhibition games.

On the road again

The Penguins won’t be seeing much of Consol Energy Center during the next week. Following Monday’s practice in Pittsburgh, the Penguins will fly to Minnesota for an exhibition contest against the Wild. They will then travel to Detroit, where they will practice at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday before playing the Red Wings on Wednesday. Following the game in Detroit, the Penguins will travel to the Poconos for a team bonding trip.

They’ll return to practice at Consol Energy Center on Saturday.

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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