Penguins notebook: Maatta leaves lasting impression with Selanne
ANAHEIM, Calif. — While Ducks icon Teemu Selanne was busy guiding Finland to the bronze medal at the Sochi Olympics, he couldn't help but notice the 19-year-old defensemen who played like someone so much older.
It's safe to say that Penguins rookie defenseman Olli Maatta made quite an impression on Selanne.
“He played against the best in the Olympics, and he was so calm,” Selanne said. “He didn't look like a first-year player.”
Maatta hasn't looked like a first-year player for the Penguins, either, moving himself into the discussion for rookie of the year honors.
Some in the organization had feared that the Olympics could contribute to the fatigue that is usually inevitable for someone Maatta's age playing in the NHL.
Instead, the Olympics appear to have strengthened him.
He scored twice against the Sharks on Thursday and has nine goals while playing arguably the steadiest defensively among any of the Penguins defensemen.
“His hockey sense and his positioning is amazing,” Selanne said. “The whole package is there. He is fun to watch.”
With defensemen Kris Letang and Paul Martin out of the lineup for a lengthy period, the Penguins are relying heavily on Maatta, often playing him against the opposition's finest players.
He doesn't seem rattled, which doesn't surprise the 43-year-old Selanne.
“Off the ice,” Selanne said, “his preparation is truly professional. Great kid. It was a pleasure getting to know him.”
Bortuzzo misses game
The Penguins were forced to play on Friday in Anaheim without defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, who was injured in Thursday's game against the Sharks.
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said that Bortuzzo is “day-to-day” with an upper-body injury but did not elaborate.
Bortuzzo played only 4:20 in the first period against the Sharks before departing.
His inability to play, according to another Penguins defenseman, may have played a significant role in the Penguins' 5-3 loss.
“Obviously, the Sharks are a really good team, and they were coming at us with a lot of speed and they were physical,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “But playing against that team in that building with only five defensemen wasn't very much fun.”
When the Penguins had six defensemen at their disposal against the Sharks, they carried the play.
However, in the final two periods, the Sharks unloaded on the undermanned blue line, producing a number of turnovers.
Bortuzzo had pleased the coaching staff with his physical play in recent weeks.
“I feel good about my game,” he said a day before the injury.
Fearing for the worst
Defenseman Ben Lovejoy, who has become a regular contributor on Anaheim's defensive unit after years of sporadic work with the Penguins, was surprised to see Sidney Crosby register a minus-5 rating against the Sharks.
And he wasn't expecting to see such a thing two games in a row.
“Sid doesn't go minus-5 very often,” Lovejoy said. “He's going to have a response game. We'll take the brunt of it.”
Penguins director of communications, Jennifer Bullano, was the focal point of a new episode of TLC's “Say Yes to the Dress” on Friday night.
The episode was shot two years ago in New York City on the day Crosby returned from his second bout with concussions during the 2011-12 season.
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins confident Pouliot will be healthy, ready for camp
- Penguins GM insists new coach Johnston was no afterthought
- Penguins coach says team needs to ‘lessen the load’ on Crosby
- Penguins goalie Fleury likely to enter season without new contract
- Rossi: Time with Penguins taught Bylsma importance of stability
- Penguins alumni rally to help Mitch Wilson, who is fighting ALS
- With Spaling locked up, Penguins turn attention to signing Sutter