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Update: Marc Staal cleared for contact, practices fully

Dec 26, 2011, 1:00 PM EST

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Following up on this morning’s post about the Rangers getting healthier, some big news: Marc Staal was not only cleared for contact today, but also made it through his first practice sans yellow jersey.

“I totally felt fully confident going on the ice and taking some hits,” Staal told Andrew Gross of the Bergen Record. “There was no doubt in my mind it was the right thing to do.”

There’s still no definitive timetable for Staal’s return. He did participate in battle drills during practice, but said his conditioning needs work in order to prepare for playing 25 minutes a night.

“It will take a bit to get my timing back,” Staal told BlueShirts United. “Like everyone says, you can work out all summer as hard  as you want, the moment you get into a corner and start pushing ans shoving and hitting, it just drains you. So it will be good to get that back.”

That 25-minute comment is key given the current state of New York’s blueline — head coach John Tortorella is going almost exclusively with four defenseman given injuries to Steve Eminger and Jeff Woywitka. In New York’s last game against Philadelphia, the top-four of Michael Del Zotto, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh and Anton Stralman all played over 24 minutes.

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