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Staal Returns to Practice

Saturday, 11.21.2009 / 12:22 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Staal Returns to Practice
Saturday’s morning skate had one more participant than expected, even if he won’t suit up against Tampa Bay.

Paul Branecky
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Eric Staal, who has missed the last eight games with an upper body injury, skated with the team for the first time since having to exit the November 1 game against San Jose. He’s still hoping for a return to the lineup next week, perhaps as early as the team’s upcoming road trip through Dallas and Anaheim.

“I’m working and doing everything I can to make sure that I’m back in the lineup as soon as I can at 100 percent,” said Staal, who had been skating on his own prior to today.

“His stride looks like it’s a lot closer to where he wants it to be,” said Coach Paul Maurice. “He’s not shooting the puck (hard), but that’s by design. He’s not supposed to be out there hammering or one-timing the puck. Sometime in the next 10 days we’re hoping he’s back in the lineup, but that will depend on how he gets through each day.”

When Staal missed the Hurricanes’ November 4 game at Florida, it marked just the second game he’s had to sit out in his six-season career and the end of his 349 games-played streak, which ranked second in franchise history.

Although he now admits to playing through an already-existing injury and eventually making it worse, he also said that it wasn’t the first time.  It probably won't be the last.

“It nagged me for a couple of games and got worse and worse, and then in the San Jose game it just tore and I was done after that,” he said. “I’ve had that many times in my career where maybe one or two games in a row I’m not feeling great but good enough, and then you get to the next couple of games and you’re back to 100 percent. I was hoping for that, but it got to the point where it wasn’t going to get back to 100 percent unless I sat out.”

Watching Hurricanes games in the press box was a relatively new experience for Staal, who had not done so since his rookie season. With the team struggling for most of that time until a recent four-game points streak, that turned out to be more frustrating than he could have imagined.

“It’s tough. It’s no fun watching when you can’t do anything or put forth any effort to help your team,” he said. “Your effort goes into making sure you’re working hard to get back into the lineup, and that’s where I’ve been for the last couple of weeks. I’ve worked hard and it’s been a learning experience, but hopefully I can come back better and help our team win games.”

Joni Pitkanen also took the morning skate and will play tonight barring unforeseen circumstances. Maurice said that goaltender Michael Leighton is recovering nicely from his groin injury and would make the upcoming road trip, while Scott Walker will stay behind with his upper-body injury.


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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
N. Hanifin 79 4 18 -14 22
J. Slavin 63 2 18 1 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81