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Staal Returns to Practice

by Michael Smith / Carolina Hurricanes
Eric Staal returned to practice on Sunday for the first time since leaving the Jan. 4 game in New York with a lower-body injury.

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“We’re going to see how I respond after a good practice today and how I feel tomorrow, but I’m feeling good now, and it’s getting better,” Staal said.

The Hurricanes’ captain has missed three games, his first games missed due to injury since Feb. 26, 2011. He had played in 191 consecutive games since then.

Now in his 10th NHL season, Staal has missed just 15 games due to injury, including 10 in 2009-10 alone.

“I would be completely ineffective if I would have stayed trying to get it done. I tried,” Staal said. “A huge part of my game is skating and using my power, speed and size. With what I had going on, I wasn’t able to do that.

“It was smart to take a step back when I did, and now I’m feeling a lot better.”

It has not been decided whether Staal will be in the lineup for the Canes when they face Calgary on Monday. Something to consider is the fact that Carolina has a four-day gap in between games after Monday.

“We’ve got to see how he responds to today. We want to be smart,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “We have all the days off after that, so we want to make sure if he’s ready to go tomorrow, it’s nothing that sets him back.”

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