Penguins notebook: No decision on Maatta's future

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There has been no indication that the Penguins plan to return rookie defenseman Olli Maatta to his junior team in London, Ontario, anytime soon, but coach Dan Bylsma said no decision on Maatta's immediate future has been finalized, either.

"We'll have three days to make a full evaluation of that situation," Bylsma said.

Maatta has dressed for the first nine games. If he plays in another -- the first opportunity will be Friday, when the New York Islanders visit Consol Energy Center -- the first season of his three-year entry-level contract will take effect.

Maatta has been impressive at both ends of the ice, although Bylsma said the team's bounty of defensemen -- a group that will grow with the expected return of Kris Letang from injury soon -- will have an impact on management's decision about whether to keep him.

"The possibility of us returning to full health on the back end here shortly will play in that," he said.

"The sheer number of defensemen we have will play into it, as well."

If the Penguins keep Maatta, they will monitor how he performs and holds up as the season progresses.

Maatta acknowledged that the NHL season is more of a grind than he has experienced.

"If I'm going to be here, it's going to be different," he said. "Eighty-two games is going to be a lot."

Patience goes unrewarded

The Penguins were frustrated by their inability to get a puck past Colorado goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere in a 1-0 loss Monday at Consol Energy Center, but it didn't really show in their play.

They didn't get rattled by Giguere's exceptional work and actually recorded nearly half heir shots -- 18 of 34 -- during the third period.

That's a significant difference from the Eastern Conference final this spring, when Boston goalie Tuukka Rask exasperated them and they pressed so hard that it became counterproductive.

"I liked the patience of our team," Bylsma said. "I liked the way our power play stuck with it ... and had some real good chances on the final couple of power plays.

"I thought we got a lot of action and people to the net. We really focused on that in the third period, five-on-five and the power play.

"We just weren't able to find one in the end. But the patience of our team, sticking with the game plan, was extremely good."

Jeffrey struggles

Penguins forward Dustin Jeffrey has been a healthy scratch the past three games after failing to record a point over the first six.

He said that "obviously, you want to play every night, and that's what I'm trying to work toward now," but acknowledged that his inability to have an offensive impact led to him losing his place in the lineup.

Jeffrey was used primarily on the third line and averaged 11 minutes, 14 seconds of ice time.

"You just have to wait for an opportunity to get back and try to capitalize on that," he said.

"Being a guy who gets an opportunity in an offensive role and gets a little time on the power play, you have to produce."

Tip-ins

The Penguins are adjusting their practice schedule for the balance of the month and had a day off Tuesday. They initially had been scheduled to work out at Southpointe. ... The Penguins' 0-for-7 power-play performance Monday against the Avalanche dropped their conversion rate for this season to 21.9 percent.

Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@post-gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.


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