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Staal Set for Return; Carson Claimed

Monday, 02.28.2011 / 12:53 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Staal Set for Return; Carson Claimed
With most teams looking outside for ways in which to improve their team, the Hurricanes got their best piece of news from within their own roster.

Paul Branecky
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On the day of the NHL trade deadline, Carolina captain Eric Staal returned to practice Monday for the first time since a high hit from Pittsburgh’s Matt Niskanen knocked him out of Friday’s game and caused him to miss the following night’s contest in Montreal.

Staal participated fully in the skate, on his normal place on a line with Erik Cole and Cory Stillman, and all indications are that he will play Tuesday against Florida.

“Barring anything that goes wrong tomorrow morning, I should be good to go tomorrow night,” he said following practice.

“He’s ready to play,” said coach Paul Maurice. “He felt good the next day after the (Pittsburgh) game and felt better the next day. He’s ready to go.”

That comes as excellent news for the Hurricanes, who would have had a much harder time hanging on to the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference without Staal, regardless of what else they do on deadline day.

Regarding his injury, it seemed as though Staal felt no ill will toward Niskanen, who was not penalized, fined or suspended in any way after a review from the NHL.

“The replay I don’t think gives justice to how hard it was,” said Staal. “It was such a quick play. I’m not sure if it looked like he was trying to avoid me once he realized I didn’t see him. He kind of pulled up a little bit and his hands got up high, and it looked like he didn’t want to fully finish because I was in a vulnerable position.”

As for the rest of the day, General Manager Jim Rutherford’s public desire to add a depth defenseman before 3 p.m. likely increased after the loss of defenseman Brett Carson. At noon, the Calgary Flames claimed the 25-year-old on waivers, meaning that he’ll head back to where he played junior hockey from 2002-2006 with the Western Hockey League’s Hitmen. He’ll also be reunited with a few former teammates in Anton Babchuk and Tom Kostopoulos, who the Hurricanes traded there in November.

“If I cleared waivers, I probably would have been back in the American League,” said Carson, referring to the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers. “It’s a good to get another chance in the NHL, and hopefully I can prove to the Flames that I belong.”

“He gave us some good minutes when we had some injuries, and had a difficult time ever getting himself to the point where he would be penciled in for sure at the start, but he was a valuable depth guy for us,” said Maurice.

The move leaves the team with six NHL defensemen, including the recently-acquired Derek Joslin, who has impressed the team in recent games.

“He’s played very, very well, and he and (Jay) Harrison look like they have a chemistry almost immediately out there,” said Maurice, adding that Harrison will return from illness for Tuesday’s game. “They’re both willing to finish checks, and that’s for me the way your five-six pair should look at nights. If those two guys get on the ice against the other team’s top line, you’re not in a panic.”


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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 55 32 17 6 153 127 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
5 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
6 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
7 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
8 PIT 54 28 19 7 139 136 63
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 CAR 55 24 21 10 131 143 58
11 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
12 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 BUF 56 22 28 6 131 155 50
15 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 54 15 19 -13 34
J. Skinner 55 19 12 -3 31
V. Rask 53 12 19 0 31
J. Staal 55 12 19 7 31
K. Versteeg 54 10 21 1 31
E. Staal 55 9 21 1 30
E. Lindholm 55 8 16 -9 24
A. Nestrasil 48 8 12 0 20
J. Nordstrom 44 5 10 2 15
R. Hainsey 55 3 11 -12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 15 11 7 .909 2.34
E. Lack 9 10 3 .901 2.74
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