PITTSBURGH - Unlike most of his teammates, defenseman Rob Scuderi isn't familiar with Game 7 pain.
In three Game 7s, Scuderi is undefeated.
He has some advice for his Penguins teammates, many of whom have wilted during the most pressure-filled game that hockey can provide.
“Here's the biggest thing for us right now,” Scuderi said. “We need to be confident in the game plan that our coaches give us. That's it. It's important for us to have more faith in the system that's gotten us here.”
Earlier this season, Scuderi snapped that the Penguins were playing “Harlem Globetrotters” hockey. He has been a lightning rod for fan dissatisfaction this season, but Scuderi's postseason track record is close to flawless. He knew in January that the Penguins weren't playing proper hockey, and he knew it earlier in this series, too. Unlike most of the Penguins Stanley Cup winners, Scuderi owns two rings. When he speaks, his teammates listen.
“You have to play the game the right way,” Scuderi said.
Scuderi wasn't around for the Penguins' loss in Game 7 against Montreal in 2010, nor was he a member of the Penguins team that blew a 3-1 lead against Tampa Bay.
He was busy helping the Kings win a championship in 2012 while the Penguins were imploding against the Philadelphia Flyers. He notched the third Game 7 victory of his career last year while the Penguins fell apart against Boston.
Scuderi returned to the Penguins this season because they offered him $13.5 million and because he wants to win.
If the Penguins don't display more mental toughness — traits of this team include taking bad penalties, an inability to match the opposition's intensity in the first 10 minutes and a preference for style over substance — they won't last much longer in these playoffs.
Scuderi believes the Penguins are mentally equipped to navigate Tuesday's game successfully.
“I think so,” he said. “At least in the playoffs, (Game 6) was the first time we followed a bad game (Game 5) with a bad start. So, I think that's a good sign. You know, we're going home. We're playing Game 7. We have a chance to move on here. We'll take it.”
(Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.)