As has been reported, Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman John Marino has an injury that will require surgery. The precocious rookie is having the repair work, presumably on his left cheek, done Monday afternoon.
That was as much as coach Mike Sullivan would confirm after the team practiced Monday at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. He declined to say whether the surgery might end Marino’s season.
“I’m not going to speculate,” he said. “When we have that information, we’ll share it.”
Marino left in the third period of Thursday’s 4-2 loss at Tampa Bay when a Steven Stamkos slapshot got deflected up into the left side of his face. It is believed he has more than one broken bone in his cheek.
Sullivan said the decision for Marino to have surgery was made after he saw doctors in Pittsburgh Monday morning. The Penguins were traveling when he got hurt, and he finished the road trip with the club.
Marino is having a strong rookie season. He has five goals, 25 points in 51 games and has been more than steady defensively, He has fit with various defense partners, including Marcus Pettersson and Kris Letang, depending on who has been available in a season of injuries for the Penguins.
“For a young guy coming up this first year, he’s so responsible and he’s go good defensively,” Pettersson said.
“Just his poise,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby added. “He’s able to look guys off and then make plays getting out of our zone, able to skate, join the rush. He’s got a great shot. … He gets pucks through. He’s pretty dynamic.”
Unless the Penguins made a trade for a defenseman, some reserve or younger players will fill the gap. So far, it has been a fourth pairing of Chad Ruhwedel and Juuso Riikola.
“There’s an opportunity for other guys to step up,” Sullivan said. “That’s been the mindset all year.”
Meanwhile, winger Dominik Kahun, who has a concussion, skated on his own before practice. Sullivan said Kahun is making progress.
There was no sign of center Nick Bjugstad, who had core muscle surgery and is well beyond the initial eight-week projected recovery time, or defenseman Brian Dumoulin, who had ankle surgery.
Sullivan said Bjugstad and Dumoulin continue to do rehab off the ice.
The Penguins have five players who have appeared in all 54 games this season: forwards Brandon Tanev, Dominik Simon Zach Aston-Reese and Teddy Bluger, and defenseman Marcus Pettersson.
With a nod to @OtherNHLCrosby, who did the math, the Penguins, with 226 man-games lost and 28 games remaining, have exactly equaled their total of man-games lost from last season.