Penguins notebook: Maatta surgery set for this week
Defenseman Olli Maatta, who will have a potentially cancerous lump removed from his neck, will not join the Penguins on their five-game road trip.
Coach Mike Johnston didn’t offer many details regarding Maatta’s week, except that he will be “undergoing treatment” during the next few days.
Maatta is expected to have surgery some time this week to remove the lump. The 20-year-old defenseman has been told there is an 85 percent chance that the lump is a form of thyroid cancer, but his condition is not life-threatening.
He is expected to miss one month of playing time.
Maatta has been one of the Penguins’ best players through 10 games, producing one goal and six points while playing 20 minutes per match.
Defenseman Scott Harrington is getting familiar with the drive from Pittsburgh to Wilkes-Barre.
He has been recalled and then returned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton three times during the past three weeks.
The Penguins are extremely close to the salary cap, which is a big reason why the Penguins haven’t permanently left him on the NHL roster. With Maatta out of the lineup, there is a possibility Harrington will play at some point on the upcoming road trip.
“We’d like to get him a game or two over the next couple of weeks,” Johnston said.
Harrington said he isn’t frustrated by the constant travel between the NHL and AHL.
“It’s hockey,” Harrington said. “I’ll go wherever they want me to. Obviously, I’m happy to be here now.”
Bortuzzo, Ehrhoff paired
Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo will see his first action of the season Tuesday in Minnesota. He’ll also have an unfamiliar defense partner.
Bortuzzo skated with defenseman Christian Ehrhoff on Monday during practice and expects to be paired with him against the Wild.
“He’s a talented player, and I think it will work out,” said Bortuzzo, who pronounced himself 100 percent healthy from a preseason injury. “I’ll give the pairing a physical edge. I think it will be fine.”
Kris Letang and Paul Martin are expected to play together for the first time since last May, when they played well against the Rangers in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Penguins don’t want to separate the duo of Rob Scuderi and Simon Despres.
Forward Beau Bennett has been cleared for game action but won’t start his season with the Penguins.
Bennett will play a few games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton before presumably rejoining the Penguins. He worked on a line with center Evgeni Malkin and left wing Pascal Dupuis in Monday’s practice.
“I’m feeling better now,” said Bennett, who suffered an MCL injury in September. “I feel fast. My hands feel good.”
Johnston said that Bennett will play “a couple of games over the weekend” with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and that this is an opportunity for him to “get through contact” while the Penguins are on the road.
Crosby, Fleury lauded
Center Sidney Crosby and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury were recognized by the NHL for their strong starts. Crosby was named the NHL’s No. 2 star for October, as he led the NHL in scoring with 15 points through the opening month. Anaheim’s Corey Perry, who has 11 goals, earned the No. 1 star.
Fleury received the NHL’s No. 3 star of the week after posting two shutouts and a 3-0 record in victories against New Jersey, Los Angeles and Buffalo. He already has three shutouts this season, two shy of his career high.