Rob Scuderi knows what his upstart Los Angeles Kings can gain tonight against the Penguins at Staples Center.
"Every team in the NHL is trying to be the Penguins; ultimately, you look at them and see what you can become," the Kings' defenseman said Wednesday of a showdown between his club - third in the Western Conference (9-4-2, 20 points) - and the Penguins, who are 7-0-0 on the road and own the NHL's best overall mark (12-3-0, 24 points).
"I'm looking forward to seeing how we respond."
So are many hockey observers that have compared these Kings to the 2006-07 Penguins that went from talked-about youngsters to playoff-bound Cup contenders.
Scuderi, nicknamed "The Piece" by Penguins teammates last season for his contributions to their Stanley Cup win, will surely alert his young Kings teammates - fueled by top-scoring center Anze Kopitar (11 goals, 24 points) - that one game against the champs does not make a successful season.
"But it's going to be our toughest test," he said. "I know those guys, and they don't make anything easy on opponents."
Under coach Dan Bylsma, who is 30-6-4 since replacing Michel Therrien last season, the Penguins have prided themselves this season on seizing the moment. They are 4-1-0 against teams that started yesterday at .500 or better and 7-1-0 against clubs that qualified for the playoffs last season.
"It just comes down to consistency and getting to your game," Penguins captain and center Sidney Crosby said yesterday after a practice that he and several teammates skipped in favor of off-ice workouts -- with Bylsma's blessing.
"Since Dan came, probably about a month in, we found our identity and were confident how we were going to win games. You need to have that. There are going to be times where you're going to have stints that are tough and you're not going to be playing good hockey - but you need to know where you need to be in order to be successful. We have that."