ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --- The stubbly beard of Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ryan O'Byrne conceals the pinkish cut that required 100 stitches to close.
Attempts to, anyway. The whiskers can't fully hide the severe wound.
O'Byrne was caught flush in the face by the sharp skate of Edmonton's Taylor Hall early in a game two weeks ago, causing a gash that begins just above the left side of his mouth.
He needed 30 stitches on the outside of his cheek to close the wound and 70 more inside.
Still, he considers himself fortunate. The skate narrowly avoided a nerve in his face and completely missed his eye or neck. "It could have been worse, for sure," he said after practice Monday.
O'Byrne is scheduled to return to the lineup tonight in Minnesota, wearing a caged helmet to provide added protection for his face.
"I feel good, really good," he said. "There will be a little bit of a scar, but everything considered it's not too bad. Got the 5 o'clock shadow going for a bit."
He's watched the replays to piece together what exactly happened. Hall attempted to jump over the stick of forward Matt Duchene in the Avalanche end. As the Oilers rookie was falling, his right skate rose into the air, striking O'Byrne squarely on the cheek.
"There's not much you can do. It happens pretty quickly," he said.