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Lightning vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Staal Returns to Practice

Saturday, 11.21.2009 / 12:22 PM / 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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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 48 30 14 4 156 127 64
2 NYI 46 31 14 1 151 129 63
3 DET 47 27 11 9 139 119 63
4 MTL 45 29 13 3 123 106 61
5 PIT 46 26 12 8 138 117 60
6 NYR 44 27 13 4 134 106 58
7 WSH 46 24 13 9 137 120 57
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9 FLA 44 20 14 10 107 122 50
10 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
11 TOR 48 22 23 3 142 150 47
12 PHI 48 19 22 7 130 146 45
13 CBJ 45 20 22 3 113 142 43
14 NJD 47 17 22 8 107 134 42
15 CAR 46 16 25 5 98 120 37
16 BUF 47 14 30 3 89 167 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 41 15 13 -8 28
J. Faulk 46 8 18 -14 26
J. Skinner 41 10 9 -7 19
E. Lindholm 46 9 10 -10 19
R. Nash 46 7 12 -4 19
J. Tlusty 39 11 7 -12 18
N. Gerbe 42 4 13 -2 17
V. Rask 46 6 9 -9 15
A. Sekera 44 1 14 -8 15
C. Terry 33 6 3 -3 9
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Khudobin 5 8 2 .916 2.32
C. Ward 11 17 3 .911 2.45