Hawks Insider

Breaking down Maatta's breakout postseason for Blackhawks

Hawks Insider

The Blackhawks are the youngest team in the playoffs with an average age of 25.6, but they have several multiple Stanley Cup winners on their roster to offset that inexperience.

Corey Crawford. Patrick Kane. Duncan Keith. Brandon Saad. Jonathan Toews. Even Brent Seabrook and Andrew Shaw, both of whom did not make the trip to Edmonton because of injuries.

But there's also Olli Maatta, who won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017 when he was with the Pittsburgh Penguins. And he's become one of the Blackhawks' most reliable defenseman this postseason.

In eight postseason contests, Maatta has three goals and three assists for six points, which is tied for fourth on the team. Only Patrick Kane (8), Jonathan Toews (8) and Dominik Kubalik (7) rank ahead of him.

To put his goal total into perspective: Maatta had five goals across 125 regular-season games over the past two seasons, including just four in his first season with the Blackhawks. He's already one away from matching his regular season goal total.

"He's been joining the rush and creating offense," said Drake Caggiula, who scored a goal in Sunday's 3-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights thanks to a great dish from Maatta. "He scored a goal the other night joining the rush as well. We need that, we need our D to step up and help us out on the offensive end, and we've got to help them out on the defensive end. Olli's been a really big piece for us so far."

 

Maatta hasn't only been a dependable piece on offense. The Blackhawks are trusting him on the defensive end, too.

Maatta has taken 45 defensive zone faceoff starts at even strength in eight postseason games, according to Natural Stat Trick. Only Calvin de Haan (47) has more for the Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks have nine goals for and only four against at even strength when Maatta is on the ice for a goal differential of plus-5, which leads the team. He's one of five Blackhawks — along with Alex DeBrincat (plus-4), Kirby Dach (plus-3), Slater Koekkoek (plus-3) and Patrick Kane (plus-1) — who have a positive differential at even strength.

Good things are happening when No. 6 is on the ice, and the Blackhawks need those contributions to continue from their defensemen if they want to prolong their first-round series against Vegas.

"He's got that experience of a couple Stanley Cups," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "It's nice to have someone — we have our Blackhawks who've won — but it's nice to have someone who's done it a different way. He's been important with his leadership in the room there talking about what we have to do to have success, and he's played very well. A couple big goals and offensive contributions, but mostly he's here to defend and he's done a great job on the penalty kill, so he's been a big part of our team."

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