AOL News has a new home! The Huffington Post.

Click here to visit the new home of AOL News!

Hot on HuffPost:

See More Stories

Veteran Rob Scuderi Feels at Home on West Coast

Apr 20, 2010 – 10:07 AM
Text Size
Monte Stewart

Monte Stewart %BloggerTitle%

Chances are good Rob Scuderi will not score a goal in these Stanley Cup playoffs, but L.A. Kings coach Terry Murray isn't complaining.

Scuderi, a stay-at-home defenceman who has struggled to get comfortable in his first season on the West Coast, did not score a goal this season. In fact, he only has all of three markers in his entire NHL career.

But he has shored up the Kings' defence, allowing his blue-line partner Drew Doughty and many of the offensively-gifted Kings to flourish thus far against the Vancouver Canucks.
"It's been a weird ride, I guess, from the start of the season," says Scuderi. "You're a new guy and you're not really sure what to expect. As the season's gone on, you feel more comfortable. Certainly, having success helps, for an organization that hasn't had some in a while."

The Kings, in the playoffs for the first time since 2002, appear to be on the verge of more success after beating the Canucks 5-3 in the third game of their Western Conference quarterfinal series Monday night. The win gave L.A. a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series over the once-favoured Canucks.

Kings lead series, 2-1
Kings 5, Canucks 3: Recap | Box Score | Series Page

Scuderi, a 31-year-old from Syosset, N.Y., located on Long Island, has a chance to do what no other player in this series can - win a second straight Stanley Cup.

He helped the Pittsburgh Penguins capture the crown over the Detroit Red Wings last spring before signing a four-year $13.6-million free agent deal with the Kings last summer. At the time, many wondered whether Scuderi, Pittsburgh's fifth-round draft choice in 1998, deserved such a lucrative deal.

But they're not wondering anymore.

Scuderi, whose plus-16 mark in the regular season was the third best on the club, played a potentially pivotal role in the series in Game 2 as he fired the puck at the Canucks' bench during a line change in overtime.

Vancouver was penalized for too many men on the ice and Anze Kopitar scored the winning goal on the ensuing power play.

Since Scuderi's crafty move, the Canucks have gone from being on the cusp of taking a 2-0 series lead to now fighting to get up off the canvas after surrendering seven power-play goals on 12 L.A. man-advantage opportunities.

According to coach Murray, Scuderi has made many similar heads-up plays this season while furthering the development of budding 20-year-old superstar Doughty.

Murray says Doughty, who finished third among NHL defencemen in scoring and is considered a strong candidate for the Norris Trophy as the league's top rearguard, would not be having such a fine season if it were not for Scuderi.

The L.A. bench boss says Scuderi has also provided an important voice in the Kings' dressing room. Murray says he knew Scuderi through interviews and seeing him on television before this season, but was not aware of his leadership skills.

But Scuderi says he and other Kings veterans, like Ryan Smyth and Sean O'Donnell, prefer to do their talking through their play on the ice.

"Just go out there and lead by example," says Scuderi. "None of us are the type of people to ram our opinion down someone else's throat. Just be yourself and laugh, stay loose and, when it comes to hockey, you talk about the fundamentals of being in the right places and being there for your teammates and adding support. We're just playing our brand of hockey, because it's more about what we do than (the Canucks) do."

Much has been made about the Canucks having more playoff experience than the Kings. And while many young Kings are playing in the post-season for the first time, Scuderi is one of six L.A. players who have been to the finals before.

He is one of four Kings, along with O'Donnell (Anaheim), Justin Williams (Detroit) and Fredrik Modin (Tampa Bay), who have won the Stanley Cup, while Smyth and Jarret Stoll reached the finals with Edmonton in 2006.

When it comes to helping the Kings, Scuderi, the first Long Island native to win the Cup, says the most important thing is that he and his cohorts have been to the finals, and won it all in some cases. But he adds that the young team's overall lack of playoff experience should not prevent the Kings from going deep.

"I think it all comes down to the guys," says Scuderi. "Sometimes, you work with someone who's not experienced and they have a tough time getting into a series, getting into that first game. Then you get some people who just take (the post-season) as another step in their career. They might struggle a little bit at first. It takes them a period or two to get into it, but they play their game for the rest of the playoffs.

"I think we have the right mix of people in here as far as individuals who haven't played yet."

As a result, Scuderi, who earned the nickname Piece by describing himself as a piece of the Penguins' puzzle, is enjoying life with his new club after some early struggles to adjust to life in L.A.

"We're in the playoffs. We're in the second season. Finally, I feel at home here," says Scuderi. "It's been a long ride, but I definitely feel at home."
Filed under: Sports