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Former Pens defenseman Scuderi appreciates support

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Rob Scuderi said he sees “only similarities” between his Los Angeles Kings and the 2008 and 2009 Penguins that also reached the Stanley Cup Final. A look at those comparisons:

• The Kings and 2008 Penguins each reached the Final with 12-2 records through the conference playoffs, both squads racing to 3-0 leads in Rounds 1-3.

• The Kings are 8-0 on the road. The Penguins were 10-5 on the road during conference playoff games in 2008 and 2009.

• The Kings went 25-13-11 after coach Darryl Sutter was hired as an in-season replacement. The Penguins went 18-3-4 after coach Dan Bylsma was hired as an in-season replacement in 2009.

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Thursday, May 24, 2012, 12:30 a.m.
 

By Wednesday morning, less than 12 hours after his Los Angeles Kings had clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Final, “The Piece” had already heard from “The Kid” and “Free Candy.”

“There were a couple of messages from Brooks (Orpik) and Sidney (Crosby),” former Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi said. “Just them saying, ‘Good luck.' It's always nice to get a show of support from your friends.”

Scuderi, nicknamed “The Piece” during the Penguins' 2009 run to the Cup, left for Los Angeles as a free agent that summer. Some Penguins fans feel his shutdown-defense skills never have been replaced — and perhaps it is no coincidence the club has won one playoff series dating to his departure.

Paired in Los Angeles with superstar defenseman Drew Doughty, Scuderi said he is aware that many hockey fans in Pittsburgh are pulling for the Kings, who will play for the Cup against either the New York Rangers or New Jersey Devils.

“That's a tremendous compliment, really,” Scuderi said. “It speaks volumes for the city of Pittsburgh. It's kind of cool, as a player, to feel that your effort was appreciated.”

Highlights from his interview with Trib Total Media:

Q: What has it been like sharing a dressing room with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, two players against whom you battled fiercely while playing with the Penguins when they were Flyers?

A: They've been fantastic in the room. They're both good people, which is probably the most important thing. I don't think they're the type of guys who changed because they're on a new team. As far as all the stories and rumors that came out of Philadelphia, I've not seen anything to make those stories accurate. They're both professional, come into the room with a good attitude.

Q: Shot-blocking has been a hot topic this postseason, but have you noticed it more than in past playoffs?

A: (laughs) You mean that everyone does it? Every team has a defensive structure, but getting bodies in the lanes is what everybody is stressing. The way to score goals right now seems to be just finding out how to get the puck through to the net.

Q: How has your experience of making two deep runs with the Penguins helped these Kings?

A: Game 4 against Phoenix (on Sunday) was the perfect example. We were down, and we'd been fortunate not to be down in any game, any series — and I could feel a bewilderment on the bench. That was the time for me to say, ‘Let's just keep playing.' I talked of being down 2-0, and I'm talking about games, in the Final, and I tried to stress that there are points in a series, even if you don't win the game, where you keep playing and set momentum for the rest of the series. We didn't have a great start (Tuesday night) in Game 5, but it was a different feel on the bench than in Game 4. I think the guys understood what I meant.

Q: In addition to being under the radar in your own city, the Kings don't play like an L.A. team. How has that impacted the vibe about the team out there?

A: No, we're not glitzy at all. We grind. As talented as our forwards are, we're still a team built from the back out, and our most talented offensive players are some of our most important defensive players. Overall, it's similar to 2008 in Pittsburgh in that we won a round, and there was excitement, and we won the next round, and there was buzz, and now we're going to the Final, and everybody is on board.

Q: Does everybody include famous Lakers fans like Jack Nicholson?

A: I haven't seen him at one of our games yet. David Beckham has become a hockey fan, though. I'm not much of a celebrity guy. That's a shocker, right? Being a New York Jets fans, I'd probably only be excited if Joe Namath showed up.

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