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Staal Excited for Olympics

Wednesday, 12.30.2009 / 1:49 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Staal Excited for Olympics
Team Canada’s penchant for the dramatic was not limited to the televised selection special that aired nationally in Canada and on the NHL Network in the United States.

Paul Branecky
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In contrast to the Finnish team, which let its players know their fate three days prior to the official announcement, the Canadians were guessing until the last possible minute. When Eric Staal took the ice for the Hurricanes’ Wednesday practice just one hour prior to the announcement, he still had not heard a peep.

It wasn’t until after he returned to the locker room and checked his phone, literally minutes before the selection show began, that he heard the good news about his participation in the 2010 Winter Olympics in his home country.

“I wasn’t really sure,” said Staal of when he expected to receive official word from Steve Yzerman and the rest of Canada’s Olympic selection team. “I heard through the grapevine that it was going to be in the morning sometime that they would be calling. I wasn’t super-worried about it, but you’re always wondering.

”I checked it a little bit later after I came off the ice and saw that I had a missed call, which I figured was a pretty good sign.”

Although Staal seemed a good bet to make the team after a strong playoff performance in 2009 and a trip to the team’s orientation camp later that summer, a handful of injuries and the resulting slow start to the season had caused some to doubt his merit. A total of 21 points in the 16 games following a 10-game injury hiatus, easily the longest of his career, helped eliminate that skepticism.

“It’s tough to say,” said Staal of how he rated his own chances as the season went on. “You have days where you have a good game and say, “Yeah, I should be in the mix,’ and then you have a game where you don’t play so well and think, “Yeah, maybe not.’ It’s one of those things and it goes up and down.”

Although disappointed not to be chosen alongside his brothers Marc and Jordan and teammate Cam Ward, whose own injury problems hurt his chances this year, Staal is nonetheless looking forward to his first experience of actually playing in the Olympics.

“This is going to be intense,” he said. “I was in Torino last time [on the reserve "taxi squad" for the 2006 games] and obviously not playing, but I was around the dressing room and it’s as competitive as ever. I’m excited this time around to be in the mix and counted on to perform on the ice.”

Despite the series of nagging injuries Staal has endured this season – some which have kept him out of the lineup and some which have not – Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said he wasn’t at all concerned about his star player participating in a grueling tournament when he could instead be enjoying a few weeks of rest during the break in the NHL schedule.

“If it was a lesser deal, you’d be worried about it and say, ‘Jeez, I wish he’d rather rest,’” said Maurice. “This is such a motivating thing for a lot of players and can be a real positive jump-off for them.

“I think with Eric, you’re going to see his game build and build,” Maurice continued. “He’s starting to feel a little better and he’s got the confidence – that issue now is decided. Now there’s an excitement for him to continue to build on what he’s started since he’s come back from his injury. His numbers are outstanding and I think there’s more there.”


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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