NEW YORK -- Eric Staal had one shot on goal in his New York Rangers debut Monday, and even though he didn't score, the former Carolina Hurricanes captain is a welcome addition to his new team.
Staal, who was traded to the Rangers Sunday for prospect Aleksi Saarela and a pair of second round draft picks, won nine of 17 faceoffs and had 15:43 of ice time in a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Madison Square Garden on Monday.
The happiest Rangers player to have Staal as a teammate was his younger brother, defenseman Marc, who said it was fun playing with his brother.
"It was a lot nicer than playing against him, let's put it that way,'' Marc Staal said. "It was nice to be on the same side and rooting for him.''
Marc Staal said he was nervous all day leading up to the game.
"Ever since we got him, my stomach has been turning a bit, and I [got] excited and can't really shut [my] brain off and [didn't] get a good sleep this afternoon… It's just different.''
Eric Staal said he had a ton of emotion playing in his first game as a Ranger, but he also described the experience as "fun."
"It's a great group of guys that made me feel real welcome right off the bat,'' he said. "It feels real nice to get the win. That's what we're focused on here as a group.
"There's definitely a lot going through my head, not only just personally, but system-wise. And I've got to gain (coach Alain Vigneault's) trust in my abilities, and what I can do for him and how I can help this group.''
Vigneault, who used Staal as a center on the third line between Oscar Lindberg and Kevin Hayes, and then as a left wing on the first line with Derick Brassard and right wing Mats Zuccarello, said the 6-4, 205-pound Staal played "all right'' in his first game, but expects he will get better as he gets more comfortable.
"Anytime you add a new piece, whether it's one or two, or three - it changes the dynamics of the room,'' Vigneault said. "So we've got a guy here who comes in here as a [former] captain - it's going to help our leadership group and we've just got to give him a little bit of time to get used to the new environment.''