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Insider: Why did Pens rearrange defense'

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Burning question: Why did coach Michel Therrien open the series by rearranging his defense pairings?

Breakdown: Though Sergei Gonchar and Brooks Orpik remained the top defense tandem, Therrien opted Friday to play Hal Gill with Rob Scuderi and Kris Letang with Ryan Whitney. In the opening round against Ottawa, Whitney partnered with Scuderi and Gill with Letang. The Penguins allowed only five goals in that series and limited the Senators to an average of 28 shots.

PuckSpeak: "We believe we needed to make some adjustments because we are playing the Rangers, and they have really good top two offensive units," Therrien said. "We have to make sure our defensive game is on top because (the Rangers) do not allow a lot of goals or scoring chances."

Looking ahead: Therrien said he was not concerned about the defense pairing alterations because "Scuderi and Gill played together."

Thing is, they had not prior to Game 1 last night. Gill had played mostly with Letang since he was acquired Feb. 26 from Toronto at the NHL trade deadline.

Moving Gill, a veteran, away from Letang, a rookie, seemed curious. So did the pairing of Letang and Whitney, two offensive-minded defensemen. Gill and Scuderi are traditional stay-at-home defensemen.

Of course, Gill's past aggravations of Jaromir Jagr may have played into Therrien's plan, though Jagr seemed unconcerned with the prospect of facing his nemesis.

"This is the playoffs, and it's about seven games, not just one," Jagr said. "I have to make sure I'll be in better condition than him in Game 6 or 7."

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