There are times when I watch Olli Maatta, and I think that his birth certificate needs double-checked. There is no way he can be just 20 years old, based on the way he has been playing.
After making a fantastic play to score a goal against the Red Wings 48 hours earlier, Maatta followed up the Detroit game with a solid performance against the Predators.
He didn't make any dazzling plays, nor did he show up on the 3 Stars list, but he made several quiet, poised plays that you might not expect out of a 20 year old, but are becoming the norm for Maatta.
Maatta seems to be adapting to Mike Johnston's system pretty quickly, as you can see him activating to join the offense, and good things are following.
A simple play like the one that Maatta made show you how smart of a hockey player he is. It reminds me of baseball players following plans to back up the shortstop when they leave their position. Chris Kunitz couldn't connect with the Crosby pass, but Maatta was in the right spot to make a minor poke check, but it led directly to a goal.
Another example of Maatta activating with the defense to get a shot attempt on goal shows you his offensive upside that we didn't really get to see last season. Just a simple play, by changing the shooting angle and giving Sidney Crosby another option with the puck make the attack more versatile.
More chances like this will lead to more scoring chances and ultimately more goals.
After a little talk about offensive upside, Maatta returns to the defensive zone and shows us the solid play that we became accustomed to seeing last season. The way he plays into the attacking forward with an active stick, all while slowing the player down to neutralize the chance is just....special. I think a key part of this play was the support of Craig Adams and Marcel Goc, not leaving Maatta on an island to handle the attack on his own.
I don't notice these things a whole lot, but i did notice Olli Maatta drawing a penalty on Eric Nystrom that led to the power play that gave the Penguins a 2-0 lead in the 3rd period.
Just continuing to skate and move your feet will draw penalties on their own.
Later on in the 3rd period, Maatta made yet another very calm, but very poised play to turn a puck from a potential scoring chance into a play going the other direction for Blake Comeau into the Nashville zone.
This play came shortly after the Penguins made the score 2-0, and kept the scoring chance from threatening the game becoming a 1-goal game.
After making so many solid plays at both ends of the ice, it's just kind of stunning to me how Maatta has become essentially a top-pairing defenseman, while appearing to do so with ease.