The bottom six of the Pittsburgh Penguins hasn't been good, but the current fourth line has show improvements.
PITTSBURGH - For what seems like ages now, the Pittsburgh Penguins have gotten next to no production from their bottom six group of forwards.
In the last few games, however, the Penguins current trio sharing the fourth line have been stepping up in an important way.
Not only are they setting a decent standard for defensive play, but they’ve also strung together some depth scoring.
Ryan Poehling centering Drew O’Connor and Danton Heinen has been an unexpectedly beneficial line in the Penguins roster.
All three players have contributed the last few games and are drawing positive reactions from the right people.
Head coach Mike Sullivan stated that they all bring something good to the table and help the team win.
“There’s a lot of speed on that line, first and foremost,” Sullivan said. “I think they leverage that speed on both sides of the puck.”
Sullivan then dug into each of Poehling, O’Connor, and Heinen and described what he has like seeing from each of them.
For Poehling, it’s his attention to detail on both sides of the puck, especially as a natural center.
“I think a guy like Poehling at center is a real cerebral center,” Sullivan said. “He’s got a real solid defensive conscience. But, he also has the ability to make plays and distribute the puck.”
O’Connor has slowly been earning a full-time role in the Penguins bottom six, and that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Sullivan.
“O’Connor has done a real good job at playing a north/south game,” Sullivan said. “Using his size to get in on the forecheck, force turnovers.”
As for Heinen, it was fair to be realistic about; he hasn’t been good overall this year, but scoring four points in the last two games is a step in the right direction.
“I think Heinen has good offensive instincts,” Sullivan said. “He tends to be a streaky guy. He’s scored as of late, and we’re hoping he can continue that for us.”
It’s not the ideal trio that the Penguins would like to deploy, but they have been getting the job done.
Poehling, O’Connor, and Heinen have not only proved to be a solid group for themselves, but are out performing their third line peers.
When the Penguins are fully healthy it’s not immediately clear if O’Connor or Heinen will be in the lineup, but they’re starting to take advantage of the opportunity they’re getting.
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