MONTREAL -- Despite the initial skepticism that greeted Dan Bylsma's statement Saturday that Pittsburgh Penguins center Jordan Staal was not done for the season after suffering a lacerated tendon along the top of his foot in Game 1, it appears the coach knew what he was talking about.
In a startling development, Staal took the ice at the start of Tuesday's morning skate at the Bell Centre, just three days removed from a surgical procedure to repair the lacerated tendon along the top of his right foot. Staal suffered the in jury in Friday's Game 1 when he was struck in the foot by P.K. Subban's skate during an awkward collision.
"I know there was a few chuckles when I said day-to-day, but he is day-to-day," Bylsma said Tuesday morning, just hours before Game 3 of this Eastern Conference Semifinal series against Montreal (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS). "He's doing well, progressing and you saw him on the ice for a short time without his gear on, testing out his foot in the skate."
There is no timeframe for Staal's return to active duty, but Bylsma insisted there is no risk to Staal's health once he finds a comfort level with getting his foot back into the skate.
"We would not be risking anything in terms of his health or in terms of the procedure he had," Bylsma said. "There would be no risk. Right now, he just has to heal from a surgical wound and get back into his boot and be comfortable doing that. So there is not a risk in weighing if he should or shouldn't play."
Staal was missed in Sunday's Game 2 loss, even if the reconfigured third line -- Max Talbot at center between Matt Cooke and Pascal Dupuis -- was the most effective line in the game. Staal is the Penguins' best defensive forward, entrusted with shutting down the opposition's top line. He also contributes a big-body presence on the power play, is an anchor on the penalty kill and takes a lot of Pittsburgh's most important draws.
So, it is not surprising that the Pens got a boost from seeing Staal taking a few twirls around the Bell Centre ice Tuesday morning, signaling the start of his comeback.
"We don't know what that time frame is, but to see him out there in skates -- he wasn't out there long -- that's a great sign for us," said Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh's captain. "We'll see with time what happens, but that is a step in the right direction."
Cooke would love to see Staal return as soon as possible as Staal serves as his usual center and the two are used on the same penalty-killing unit.
"We're glad to see him back and at least trying," Cooke said. "Nobody knows the entire extent of it; but we hope for a speedy recovery."
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