Maatta's offensive explosion a welcome sight for Blackhawks
What in the world has gotten into Olli Maatta this postseason?
The veteran defenseman, who scored just five times in his previous 125 regular-season games, had 3 goals in eight playoff games heading into the Blackhawks' late Game 5 against Vegas on Tuesday.
Maatta is a stay-at-home defenseman who excels on the penalty kill, but his offensive prowess has given the Hawks a much-needed lift against Edmonton and Vegas.
Hawks coach Jeremy Colliton believes Maatta's chemistry with defense partner Slater Koekkoek has enabled both players to flip the ice and create more offensive opportunities.
"They do so many little things that help them have success," Colliton said. "That allows them and the guys they're on the ice with to play with the puck, be in the offensive zone.
"And when you do that, there's a chance to chip in offensively. He's done a really good job jumping in as the fourth guy on attack, and done a good job getting pucks through on the offensive blue line."
Maatta also has 3 assists, one of which came on Drake Caggiula's goal in the first period of the Hawks' 3-1 victory in Game 1.
"I'm ... just looking for spots to jump in there, help the forwards going into the offense," said Maatta, who only had 13 assists in 65 regular-season games this season. "That's got to be part of today's D-man's game. You've got to look for those chances when you get them.
"The goals and the points that have been coming, there's always been all the five guys making good plays. You can't really make stuff happen by yourself, even if you're the best player in the world."
Maatta is signed for two more seasons and carries a $4.083 million cap hit.