Tracking the Storm

Staal Named NHL's First Star of the Week

Monday, 03.9.2009 / 11:47 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Staal Named NHL\'s First Star of the Week
After a week in which he racked up nine points in just three games, Eric Staal won the NHL’s first star of the week award on Monday.

Paul Branecky
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The award was won on the strength of his career-high six-point performance Saturday night in Tampa Bay, in which he also scored a career-high four goals in a season-low 13:55 of ice time. Both of those marks also tie the Hartford/Carolina franchise records.

“As a group, we’re feeling pretty comfortable and confident,” said Staal, whose team has won seven if its last nine games. “Obviously Erik Cole and Tuomo Ruutu are two guys who are big and strong and can skate and hit, and the game has really kind of opened up in the last few. The chances we’ve had, we’ve really cashed in and that’s the difference.”

While Staal is undoubtedly on the best offensive stretch of his season (he has 12 points in his last five games overall), coach Paul Maurice said there have been periods where Staal may have been even stronger but didn’t get the same recognition without the gaudy numbers.

“It’s by points, but he has played other stretches where I thought he was more dominant,” he said. “It’s great to see him score goals and it’s fun for him obviously and fun for us when we win like that. Maybe I appreciate the Buffalo games where I thought he was really good, and in some of those big games where I thought, ‘Wow, this guy is really playing and battling and grinding.’”

Some observers will be quick to point out that the award coincides nicely with the reacquisition of Erik Cole. While Staal had been playing well before that, getting his longtime linemate back has certainly been a factor.

“There’s definitely something there, you can’t deny that,” said Staal. “He’s a great player, he’s got offensive skill and a lot of speed. We play well together, we’ve played together for three years, we’re comfortable and confident in each other’s abilities. If we’re both skating and playing the game that we can play, we’re effective and we’re tough to play against.”

Maurice agreed, saying that Cole’s breakaway speed has opened things up for Staal, as was evident on Staal’s second goal against Tampa Bay on Saturday night.

“Erik Cole has straightaway speed,” said Maurice. “Because of that, most defensemen have to give him ice, and when they do that it opens up Eric in the middle. He’s got a lot to do with the last two games offensively.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 77 23 31 -13 54
J. Faulk 82 15 34 -19 49
E. Lindholm 81 17 22 -23 39
V. Rask 80 11 22 -14 33
J. Skinner 77 18 13 -24 31
N. Gerbe 78 10 18 -14 28
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. Staal 46 6 18 -6 24
J. Liles 57 2 20 -9 22
J. McClement 82 7 14 -7 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 22 24 5 .910 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 17 6 .900 2.72