It was obvious the Pens were going to miss the defensive duo of Rob Scuderi and Hall Gill this season. Both were big reasons the team won the Cup last year. Alas, there was no way the team could afford to re-sign both players. Unfortunately, both left via free agency. The void they created is now more apparent than ever.
The absence of a shutdown defensive pairing is really hurting the Pens against Montreal. The talk of the series has centered around Jaroslav Halak’s stellar play/Sidney Crosby’s scoring woes. It wasn’t until Monday when it became evident that Montreal’s Mike Cammalleri is having an incredible series. Quite frankly, Cammalleri is killing the Pens.
Last post-season, the Pens would have surely matched up Scuderi-Gill against Cammalleri. This post-season, they don’t have that luxury. Instead, the Pens have two defensive pairings with one offensive guy/one defensive guy (Gonchar-Orpik, Eaton-Letang) and one pairing with two guys that play almost the same exact game (Leopold-Goligoski).
I’m not saying the Pens’ defense is the reason the series is tied at 3. I’m just saying the team is missing an element that worked for them last year. We’ve all seen how effective Gill-Josh Gorges has been this post-season. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a true shutdown tandem to throw out against Cammalleri?