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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.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

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
K. Versteeg 63 11 22 -6 33
E. Staal 63 10 23 -3 33
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81