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Penguins Room: Third Line Struggles, Drew O’Connor, ‘I Can Be Better’ (+)



Pittsburgh Penguins, Lars Eller, Drew O'Connor

The Pittsburgh Penguins tale of two teams continued Saturday during their 4-2 Loss to the St. Louis Blues. The Penguins’ top players have filled the net. Evgeni Malkin is among the top five in NHL scoring, Sidney Crosby has five points in five games, and Erik Karlsson has been as good as advertised.

The fourth line continues to be lost. Ineffectiveness has been their only consistency. The line has routinely lost its battles against opponents, and Saturday, they gave up a goal, too.

The Penguins’ third line was also without a point until newly recalled Radim Zohorna swatted a puck into the net later in the third period Saturday. That previously scoreless third line includes winger Drew O’Connor, who was generally very good in the preseason and scored four goals but had not yet registered a point until assisting on Zohorna’s tally.

“I think Drew’s working extremely hard for us. He’s a north-south guy. He can really skate. He’s got a good size and strength,” coach Mike Sullivan said of the potential power forward. “I think he can do a better job just being a little stronger on pucks and hanging on the pucks in the offensive zone, allowing his line to establish some zone time. And one of the things that we’ve talked about in general is just the lack of zone time, and they don’t set themselves for success, and there’s a lot that goes into that.”

O’Connor doesn’t yet seem to be putting too much pressure on himself, even as he acknowledged the line’s shortcomings and his own. Without the bright lights of TV cameras or cell phones, Pittsburgh Hockey Now talked with O’Connor in the locker room about what comes next.

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