Penguins notebook: After two months, Scuderi returns to lineup


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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Penguins, who entered their game Sunday against the Columbus Blue Jackets with 219 man-games lost to injury, got defenseman Rob Scuderi back after an absence of more than two months because of a broken left ankle.

He was paired with Robert Bortuzzo and played 18 minutes, 1 second with two blocked shots in the 5-3 win at Nationwide Arena.

"I felt OK," Scuderi said. "Conditioning, it wasn't a problem. Skating, it wasn't a problem. The only thing that's very awkward for me was just trying to get your bearings, where you're supposed to be, positioning, where the puck is. I struggled with that."

Brandon Dubinsky got around Scuderi to score Columbus' first goal.

"To be honest, I was hoping a situation like that would happen a little later in the game, maybe when I had my legs under me. It was my second shift, and I just got caught and I got beat. I'm not going to hide it. It's just something you haven't seen in two months. I'm glad it happened, so at least I'm prepared next time."

Plan for coaches works

Dan Bylsma's three Penguins assistant coaches previously have been head coaches -- Tony Granato and Jacques Martin in the NHL, and Todd Reirden in the American Hockey League.

Martin was added to the Penguins staff last summer, and, through the first half of this season, the four have worked out a system of assignments.

"The special teams has remained with Todd in charge of doing the power play, Tony has done the penalty kill," Bylsma said.

"Jacques and I are breaking down the game together every game in terms of responsibilities. Jacques has a different focus by nature than I do."

Martin, a former goaltender, is geared more toward defense, while Bylsma, a former winger, is geared more to the forwards.

Reirden regularly joins Bylsma behind the bench. Against the Blue Jackets, Martin was on the bench, with Granato watching from the press box level.

"Jacques and Tony have split duties on the bench, with one guy being upstairs as the eye in the sky and kind of evaluating our team game from upstairs," Bylsma said.

Letang skating again

The Penguins still have eight players out.

One of them, defenseman Kris Letang, has been skating in Pittsburgh while the team is on this road trip. He had been wearing a long wrap or soft cast on his left arm, but Bylsma said Letang is free of that and has full mobility in what is believed to be an injured elbow.

An Olympic update

Bylsma moonlights this winter as the coach of Team USA for the Sochi Olympics in February. The American team will be announced Wednesday, and Bylsma indicated that the roster has pretty well been decided.

"Since Christmas Eve, we've had our final meetings. I talked with David Poile [Team USA general manager] over the break, and we're getting ready for the 1st to come around, knowing essentially what the 25 players are going to be," Bylsma said.

"You always have a contingency for injuries and certain situations that will arise, but knowing the 25, and almost to a guy right now, I'm kind of looking forward to the 1st to see the announcement."

Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik was part of the 2010 silver-medal squad. He just returned from a concussion, and it's not clear whether that might have affected his chances of making the 2014 team. Penguins defenseman Paul Martin -- who missed out on going to the Vancouver Games in 2010 because of a broken arm -- is out right now because of a broken leg, which could cost him a chance at making the team for Sochi.

Bylsma has spent a lot of free time evaluating players. With his roster known, he will shift to preparation for the Games.

Tip-ins

The Penguins held an optional morning skate. Opting out were forwards Chris Kunitz, Tanner Glass, Brandon Sutter, James Neal, Craig Adams, Joe Vitale and Sidney Crosby as well as Orpik. ... The Penguins' healthy scratches were defensemen Simon Despres and Brian Dumoulin, and winger Harry Zolnierczyk.

Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly.


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