May 2, 2010, 11:00 AM EDT
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Montreal Canadiens
2:00 p.m. EDT, 2 May, 2010
Live on NBC
Don’t forget, we’ll have a live chat during the game on Pro Hockey Talk at 1:45 p.m. EDT.
While the exact timeframe surrounding the eventual return of Jordan
Staal is unknown — no matter what coach Dan Bylsma may say — we do
know that Staal had surgery on a severed tendon in his foot and will not
be playing for the Penguins for at least the next few games.
makes for an interesting challenge for the Penguins, who have been able
to have so much success the past few seasons based on their incredible
depth down the middle. Staal plays the role of the third line center for
the Penguins and is perhaps the best penalty killing forward on the
While he’s just a third line forward, he plays just about
the same minutes as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and is routinely
put on the ice by Bylsma in critical defensive situations. For a player
who is likely forgotten at times while the focus is on other stars on
the team, he is incredible important to the Pittsburgh Penguins?
what now for Pittsburgh, as they try and make their way back to the
finals for the third straight year? Replacing Staal isn’t just about
filling in for his defensive play, it’s about finding the production
that Staal provided. This isn’t something the Penguins are used to
either, as he’s played in 383 of the past 384 games since coming to the
Behind Crosby and Malkin, he’s become a routine 20-goal,
50-point forward who has honed his defensive skill; not exactly
something a team can replace with just one player stepping up.
Talbot is likely going to be asked to take over the third line duties
at center, as his play has certainly picked up after the team entered
the postseason. He has the skill to at produce at level near what’s been
expected of Staal, although he’s never been asked to play the kind of
minutes Staal is known for.
Craig Adams will likely see more time
on the penalty kill, which is where the Penguins will certainly miss
Staal the most. On a team with Crosby and Malkin, finding extra
offensive production — in the short term — is not as scary a
proposition as it would be on other teams. It’s rare that a third line
forward goes down with injury and a team has to scramble to replace him;
this isn’t a case where just one player can step up and replace what
Staal meant to this team.
If Staal misses more than just this series, losing what has made
the Penguins so successful — their depth — will certainly make
repeating that much harder.
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