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Staal Expected to Play Friday

Wednesday, 03.23.2011 / 2:52 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Staal Expected to Play Friday
They didn’t have him at practice, but the Canes still expect to have him for their next game.

Paul Branecky
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Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said that captain Eric Staal, who left Tuesday’s win against the Ottawa Senators with 10 minutes remaining and did not return, is expected to play Friday in Tampa Bay. Staal, who suffered a lower-body injury during the game, did not practice Wednesday and may also miss Thursday’s session.

“Our plan hasn’t changed,” said Maurice. “There were good signs today when he came in. We’ll keep him off the ice today and tomorrow, but we expect him to be full and ready to go.”

Maurice said that Staal wanted to return to the game with around six minutes remaining, but that the team decided to err on the side of caution with a two-goal load. The outcome of the game ended up being closer than the Canes would have hoped when Ottawa scored to bring it within one and applied significant pressure for the tying goal, but in the end, Staal wasn’t needed to seal the victory.

“We have to be able to win a game and close the deal without putting him at risk,” said Maurice. “It was a bit of a gamble, but I just didn’t want to put it at risk.”

Goaltender Cam Ward also did not skate on Tuesday, with the Canes sparing him from more and more practices as the season draws to a close in order to keep him fresh. In more of a surprise development, Jussi Jokinen and Chad LaRose were also off the ice, though Maurice said he had no concerns with either player.

“Rosey skated 300-400 miles last night, so I figured he had covered enough,” said Maurice. “Jussi just has some minor stuff, but there’s no issues with it.”

The Canes have another practice day on Thursday before departing to Tampa Bay for the first of a back-to-back, home-and-home set against the Lightning. Maurice said that the team would spend part of that time trying to figure out why they’ve had slow starts in their last two games against the New York Islanders and Ottawa.

“We talk about wanting to come and be real strong in the first period, and I don’t think we have been,” said Maurice. “I think we’ve been behind the puck a little bit and not pressing that offensive game where we really like to jump and go.

“It’s a bit of a concern for us. We’ve got to get to that loose anger earlier in the game. You can call it desperation, but it’s got to be more focused than that. It can’t be just one guy fighting like a dog. We have to move together a little better and a little quicker.”

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
7 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
8 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
9 NYI 50 26 18 6 135 126 58
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
12 MTL 53 25 24 4 142 142 54
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 53 15 19 -13 34
V. Rask 51 12 19 1 31
K. Versteeg 52 10 21 1 31
J. Skinner 53 18 12 -3 30
J. Staal 53 12 18 7 30
E. Staal 53 9 21 0 30
E. Lindholm 53 8 16 -8 24
A. Nestrasil 46 7 12 -1 19
J. Nordstrom 42 5 9 2 14
R. Hainsey 53 3 11 -12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 15 11 5 .905 2.43
E. Lack 9 10 3 .901 2.74
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