Confront Olli Maatta with the fact he scored two huge goals in the Eastern Conference finals against the Ottawa Senators last season, and he'll shrug. Remind him he scored in his first two exhibition games this preseason, and he'll grin. Point out he's found the back of the net in each of his team's first two home games of the regular season, and he'll share a chuckle. Maatta doesn't think he's transforming into a high-scoring offensive defenseman now that he's passed his 23rd birthday, but mounting evidence sure seems to be pointing more or less in that direction. After all, counting playoffs, preseason and regular season, the affable Finn has six goals and 10 points in his last 21 games. Maatta suggested his growing offensive totals are simply a result of a renewed commitment to getting pucks through to the net whenever he can. “Just trying to deliver it,” Maatta said. “Get in on net when you get the chance. That's something we have to do a better job of. I think our forwards do a great job getting in front of the net.” Coach Mike Sullivan thinks there's a little more to it than that. “We've always believed Olli has good offensive instincts,” Sullivan said. “He jumps into plays when he sees them. I really believe his hockey IQ is his greatest asset. He really sees the ice well. He's a cerebral player, both defensively and offensively. “I think the fact that he's getting involved in the offense more in these last few games is an indication that he's feeling good about himself and his game. That confidence goes a long way.” Maatta's most prolific offensive season came when he recorded nine goals and 29 points as a rookie in 2013-14. The following season, he had surgeries to remove a cancerous tumor from his thyroid and to repair a shoulder injury. By last season, his totals dropped to one goal and seven points.
Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta becoming offensive threat
Pittsburgh Tribune Review | Oct 9