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Staal brothers joining forces to help Hurricanes

by Dan Rosen

NEW YORK -- Even though they're brothers and have been watching each other play the game for as long as they can remember, playing together on the same line is still a work-in-progress for Carolina Hurricanes forwards Eric and Jordan Staal.

"I've never played with him in my life," Eric Staal told "Even on the outdoor rink we played against each other, so it's not like I have anything to go on. I've watched him my whole life. I know his game, what he does, what he's good at and what I'm good at, but we're figuring it out as we go."

They're figuring out that they are quite good together, which really shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone considering the size and skill they have.

Jordan is 6-foot-4, 220 pounds and is one of the top two-way centers in the NHL; Eric is 6-foot-4, 205 pounds and one of the best power forwards in the League. The two of them together on the same line presents a major matchup problem for opposing coaches.

Since Dec. 29, when Jordan made his season debut after missing the first 35 games with a broken leg, the Staals have combined for 20 points and the Hurricanes are 7-4-2 in games they've played together. Eric, who moved from center to left wing, has nine goals; Jordan has eight assists.

"We're a threat every night," Eric said.

Jordan said they are because of how effective they have been in using their size to their advantage.

"For us it's been using our bodies and playing in their end, playing hard and playing heavy, holding onto pucks and creating offense in the cycle to wear teams down like that," Jordan said. "We're just trying to carry momentum for our team by doing that. With Eric, the things he can do, the way he can score goals it has made it easy for me. I just try to get the puck to him."

Rangers defenseman Marc Staal, the other Staal brother in the NHL, compared his brothers on the same line to one of the best combinations in the League over the past several seasons.

"It's like playing against [Ryan] Getzlaf and [Corey] Perry because of their size," Marc Staal said.

The fact that Eric and Jordan are both natural centers has helped too, because it makes them interchangeable.

"It's whoever is first back," Eric said.

Jordan scored on Jan. 13 against the Colorado Avalanche in part because Eric was the low forward in the defensive zone who won a puck battle on the wall to get it up to Jordan, who was filling in on the wing.

"There's no need to switch," Carolina coach Bill Peters said. "If they do switch that's through communication but it's not necessary. It's a good pair for us right now."

The question for the Hurricanes now is how long will they continue to play on the same line?

The thinking when Carolina acquired Jordan in a trade from the Pittsburgh Penguins was to play them both at center so the Hurricanes had an enviable one-two punch down the middle.

"I'm not sure what the long run plans are, but as of right now I wouldn't change it," Eric said. "I've got nine in 12. He's putting up points. We're controlling a lot of the play when we're on the ice and making it difficult for other teams to match up against. We'll see where it goes."


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