The Pittsburgh Penguins have another significant injury to deal with.
Defenseman John Marino reportedly broke three bones in his cheek on Thursday night in the team’s 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning when he was hit in the side of the face by a Steven Stamkos slap shot.
It was initially believed that Marino had escaped significant injury, but further evaluation on Friday revealed the nature of the injury.
The injury news was initially reported Dejan Kovacevic of DKPittsburghsports.
The play happened late in the third period. You can see it here.
No team in the NHL has missed more man games due to injury this season than the Penguins, and it is not just the number of games that have been an issue. It is also the quality of player that has been sidelined. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust, Kris Letang, Brian Dumoulin, Patric Hornqvist, Justin Schultz, and Nick Bjugstad have all missed significant time this season. And now they have to add Marino to that list.
At this point there is no timeline for how long he could be out of the lineup.
The Penguins’ current injured list already includes Guentzel, Dumoulin, and Bjugstad.
Make no mistake, this is a costly injury for the Penguins.
Not only has Marino been one of the league’s best rookies this season, he has been one of the most impactful defensive players in the entire league (regardless of position or experience level) and has helped transform the Penguins’ defense into a Stanley Cup contending unit. But with Dumoulin and Marino now out of the lineup, they are going to be missing their two best defensive players on that blue line.
Along with his defensive play, Marino also has five goals and 20 assists offensively. He scored a goal in Thursday’s game before the injury.
The Penguins acquired Marino during the offseason from the Edmonton Oilers for a conditional sixth-round draft pick.
UPDATE 2/10: Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan confirmed that Marino would have surgery, but did not specify the injury. There is also no timetable for the defenseman’s return.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.