The New Jersey Devils will be without a key defenseman, as John Marino will be out week-to-week according to team reporter Amanda Stein. It’s not all bad news though, as head coach Lindy Ruff also explained that Ondrej Palat is close to joining the group at practice. Palat has been skating on his own already.
Marino left Tuesday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes, and is headed to the shelf for the second time this season. A huge part of their defensive game plan, the 25-year-old has averaged more than 21 minutes a night and has nine points through 32 games.
With Marino and Ryan Graves, who is still being evaluated for a lower-body injury, the team recalled Nikita Okhotiuk ahead of tonight’s game. The Devils will try to topple the Boston Bruins in a battle between two Eastern Conference giants.
Palat, meanwhile, is just trying to get back and contribute for his new team. After a decade in Tampa Bay, the 31-year-old veteran signed a five-year, $30MM contract with the Devils in free agency but has played just six games so far. Brought in to help the young group learn what it takes to win in the playoffs, the two-time Stanley Cup champion did have three goals in those first six games, before hitting injured reserve with groin surgery.
Getting him back will feel like a deadline addition for the Devils, who have faltered a little bit of late after their hot start. The team is 22-9-2 on the year but has lost the Metropolitan Division lead to the surging Hurricanes, and is just 3-5-2 in their last ten.