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Penguins notebook: Maatta has surgery to remove tumor |

Penguins notebook: Maatta has surgery to remove tumor

Charles LeClaire | USA Today Sports
Los Angeles Kings center Jordan Nolan tries to shield the puck from Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Christian Ehrhoff during the first period at the CONSOL Energy Center on Oct. 31, 2014.

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Defenseman Olli Maatta had surgery Tuesday to remove a tumor in his thyroid gland, the Penguins announced.

A pathology test, currently being conducted, will determine whether the tumor is malignant. Results will be available in 7 to 10 days.

Doctors originally had projected there to be an 85-percent chance the tumor was cancerous.

“Even if it is found to be cancerous, we do not expect that he will need radiation or chemotherapy, and we anticipate a complete recovery,” said Dr. Dharmesh Vyas, the Penguins’ team physician. “The surgery went well, and Olli is resting comfortably.”

UPMC head and neck surgeon Dr. Robert Ferris performed the surgery.

The 20-year-old Maatta, who had one goal and five assists through six games, played as recently as last Saturday.

Maatta is expected to miss four weeks while recovering.

Odd couple on defense

Christian Ehrhoff probably won’t start trading barbs with opposing forwards.

It’s doubtful, too, that fellow defenseman Robert Bortuzzo will carve out a career by joining the rush and pumping slap shots from the blue line.

Still, the Penguins’ most interesting defensive pairing with Olli Maatta awaiting surgery insisted that the dynamic between them isn’t set in stone.

“We’re going to react to what the game brings us,” Ehrhoff said. “It’s not really one player gets one role. We want to read the game. If it opens up something for me to get involved in the offense, I’ll be up, he stays back and vice-versa. It’s not really one guy staying back for the other guy.”

Bortuzzo, who hasn’t played since Sept. 25 because of a lower-body injury, averaged 2.57 hits per game last season — tops among returning defenseman. Ehrhoff had four assists in his first 10 games as a Penguin.

“With the things we’ve been preaching here — puck-possession, the defense being involved in the rush and skating — I’m confident in my ability do some of that stuff as well,” Bortuzzo said. “If I can play hard, keep that edge and make it hard on some of their skill players, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Greiss gets nod

Backup goaltender Thomas Greiss started on Tuesday and will play “four games, maybe five” in November, according to Penguins coach Mike Johnston.

Greiss stopped 55 of 58 shots in two games against the Wild last season while with the Coyotes.

In his only prior start for the Penguins, Greiss was in goal while late breakdowns contributed to a blown lead and a 4-3 loss at Detroit on Oct. 23.

“Thomas had a great preseason for us and has only had the one start,” Johnston said. “He’ll get into a groove here in November.”

Keep going

The Penguins’ penalty kill, which entered Tuesday’s game 26 for its last 26, faced a Minnesota power play that snapped an 0-for-28 skid with a pair of man-advantage goals Saturday during a 4-1 win over Dallas.

Forward Craig Adams said the Penguins need not worry about recent success and instead focus on what they need to do.

“They’ve got the personal to where they can send five skilled players out here,” Adams said. “We’re not going to do a whole lot different. It comes down to executing what you want to do against a power play and getting some big saves from your goalie.”

Remember them?

According to Elias Sports Bureau, the last team to eclipse the 40-percent mark on the power play through its first 10 games was the 1995-96 Penguins, who were at 41.2 percent (21 for 51). The current Penguins finished their first 10 games at 41.9 percent (18 for 43).

Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.

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