Analysis: Penguins forward Drew O'Connor figures out how to use his size

triblive.com
7 min read
easy
Empty thoughts on the Penguins' 7-1 win against the Maple Leafs: With seemingly any center of note sidelined due to various medical concerns, the Penguins elevated rookie Drew O'Connor to the second line on Saturday and he responded with two goals. On each occasion, he used his robust 6-foot-3, 200-pound
TribLIVE's Daily and Weekly email newsletters deliver the news you want and information you need, right to your inbox.

Empty thoughts on the Penguins' 7-1 win against the Maple Leafs:

With seemingly any center of note sidelined due to various medical concerns, the Penguins elevated rookie Drew O'Connor to the second line on Saturday and he responded with two goals.

On each occasion, he used his robust 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame to create them.

"A lot of it is just battling at the net front, using your body," O'Connor said. "It wasn't something that I didn't do maybe as well the last game. So, I tried to focus on it a bit. Just trying to box out guys, get some space in front of the net and just kind of use my body."

With the first goal, which was also the first goal of the contest, O'Connor literally scored it with his body. After defenseman Marcus Pettersson corralled the puck at the left point, he chucked a wrister on net as O'Connor battled Maple Leafs forward David Kampf for position above the crease.

As the puck arrived, O'Connor twisted his backside towards the puck and allowed it to hit off his left hip, causing a deflection past goaltender Jack Campbell's blocker.

(After the game, O'Connor admitted he used that maneuver in part to protect his left hand after he had lost his glove a few moments earlier.)

On the Penguins' fifth goal, O'Connor used his physical tools again, albeit in a different way.

Rushing up the left wing into the offensive zone, he again used that big chassis to shield the puck from a backcheck by Maple Leafs forward Alexander Kerfoot. A lucky bounce off a botched pass attempt ended up in the net thanks to the left skate of former Penguins defensive prospect Jake Muzzin.

It was a fluky goal but it would not have happened if O'Connor didn't know how to box out the backchecker effectively.

Such a sight was pretty uncommon for O'Connor during the 2020-21 season when he appeared in 10 NHL games.

At least that's what his career…
Seth Rorabaugh
Read full article