Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Staal Skates, Great Sign for Penguins

by Maureen L.
TSCSF Contributing Writer

It was reported by the Penguins that Jordan Staal skated on the CONSOL Energy Center ice this morning. He was joined by Penguins strength coach Mike Kadar. While he is far from game ready after being unable to skate or work out during the off-season, the fact that Staal is able to skate is a great sign for the Penguins.

Staal originally suffered a lacerated tendon in Game 1 of the ECSF during a collision with Montreal’s PK Subban. He returned to the ice in Hollywood fashion for Games 4-7 before the Penguins were eliminated by the Canadiens. An infection developed after a follow up procedure in June. Staal spent the off-season with his foot up, unable to even do off ice work outs. Doctors advised him to take it easy, stay off it, and rest. While it was difficult and even lead to some sleepless nights for the young center, it sounds like the doctors had the right idea.

It’s almost impossible to measure the importance of Jordan Staal in the Penguins lineup. For many, it’s easy to take the player nicknamed “Gronk” or “Ironman” for granted. Before his injury, Staal had played a phenomenal streak of 358 consecutive games. He had played through bumps, bruises, and even a broken, bloodied nose. Games 2 & 3 against Montreal gave Penguins fans an idea of the impact Staal has. He was sorely missed.

With 3 games played of the 10-11 season, Staal’s absence is still noteworthy. Not only has it delayed off-season plans to move Staal to center the second line and Malkin to wing, but the Penguin’s depth just isn’t quite the same as we’ve come to expect. The third line, called the best third line in hockey last year, is generic. It’s not bad, it’s just generic. There isn’t anything that makes that third line stand out and give the opposition’s defense a hard time.

Staal is young (22) and resilient. Interviewed on October 1, he said “It’s the first bump in my career, I’m sure everyone goes through it. I’ll get through it.” The timeline has been fuzzy and ever changing as his foot heals and he works to regain his strength. At the home opener, Staal was introduced wearing a grey suit on the Penguins bench while his teammates skated onto the ice one by one. While it’s been a long summer for Staal and a long, anxious wait for Penguin fans, it sounds like things are moving in the right direction.

It will definitely add depth and strength to the Penguins lineup when Number 11 is ready to return to the ice. Hopefully Penguin fans don’t take him for granted as much now.

1 comment:

EHisCDN said...

I'm really happy to see Staal skating. I'm actually really amazed more then ever that he was able to play games 4-7. He really is the Gronk!