Tracking the Storm

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 - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 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