SAN JOSE, California – Pens defenseman Olli Maatta was on the ice with his teammates for practice for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury on Nov. 17 vs. Minnesota.
“It’s fun to be back out there,” Maatta said following Monday's practice at SAP Center. “I feel good. I’m progressing really well. I’m on schedule.”
Maatta, who was injured after being hit into the boards by Nino Niederreiter, took part in all the non-contact aspects of practice as he continues his progress. He did take some contact, but only after practice.
“It was really encouraging today,” head coach Mike Johnston said. “He wasn’t cleared for contact in practice, but I thought he looked really good out there as far as his skating goes after not being on the ice with the team for a while.
“At the end he was bumping on the boards, his physical play seemed to be OK. We’ll see how he is tomorrow and start to progress from there.”
Maatta, who was scheduled to miss 3-5 weeks with the injury, was injured after being hit by Niederreiter into the boards as backup goaltender Darcy Kuemper was opening the door for a Wild line change. Maatta fell awkwardly into the opened door.
“I can’t really remember what happened, it happened so quickly,” Maatta said. “It didn’t feel good.”
Maatta not only doesn’t remember the play, but he hasn’t even seen a replay of the sequence.
“I actually haven’t even seen it,” he said. “I don’t really want to watch it. It really doesn’t matter.”
Maatta has had a string of back luck in regard to injuries over the past two seasons. He’s undergone two shoulder surgeries, had a cancerous tumor removed from his neck and now the current upper-body injury have limited him to only 38 games played during that time.
Now he’s hoping he’ll have some good luck on the health front.
“I hope so,” he said laughing.