Drew O'Connor's Increased Role in Recent Penguins Success

O'Connor's stock is on the rise as his offensive ability starts to show.
Pittsburgh Penguins v Boston Bruins
Pittsburgh Penguins v Boston Bruins / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

Drew O'Connor's upward trajectory has been unmistakable for the past 19 Pittsburgh Penguins games, and his recent performances have only heightened this trend. In tonight's clash with the Philadelphia Flyers, O'Connor showcased his versatility and skill, regardless of his line assignment.

His standout moment came with a beautifully executed assist to Evgeni Malkin. Malkin, who had his hands full fending off aggressive Flyers along the boards, found a valuable ally in O'Connor. This game not only highlighted O'Connor's growing confidence but also his ability to make significant contributions under pressure.

Throughout the game, O'Connor's presence was unmistakable, but it was in the third period that he truly sparkled. His pivotal assist to Malkin, boosting the team to a commanding 4-1 lead, was a play to remember. So, what made that pass so exceptional?

It was O'Connor's aggressive offensive approach that drew the defenders towards him, skillfully creating space for Malkin, who was charging down the center towards the net. This moment underscored O'Connor's strategic awareness and his ability to execute plays that make a difference.

Reflecting on his recent performances, O'Connor's stats speak volumes about his growing impact. Over the last eight games, he ranks second in goals (3) and points (6), and third in primary assists (3) during 5v5 play among all Penguins players. These numbers are a testament to O'Connor's evolving role and his increasing significance in the Penguins' offensive strategy.

In light of O'Connor's recent surge, it seems only logical to keep him on the Malkin line for the foreseeable future. This isn't just about riding the wave of a hot streak; it's about giving O'Connor the runway to fully unleash his potential in a role where he's clearly thriving.

His chemistry with Malkin is not just beneficial for his development but also injects a dynamic vigor into the team's play. Before considering any lineup changes, it's worth exploring the heights this duo can reach together. O'Connor has already shown glimpses of his impressive skill set, and the consistency he's developing alongside Malkin could be the catalyst for even greater achievements.

As a Penguins fan, it's exciting to imagine the possibilities that lie ahead with this pairing, especially as we gear up for the critical games down the stretch, including against the Vancouver Canucks this Thursday night. While Reilly Smith has certainly shown impressive synergy with Malkin earlier this season, I believe that, at least for now, O'Connor deserves to retain his spot on the line. His recent performances have more than earned him this opportunity.