Marc Staal returned to the New York Rangers lineup Monday night for the first time since he was struck near his right eye by a deflected puck on March 5.
Staal logged 17 minutes, 17 seconds of ice time in 21 shifts of the Rangers’ 4-3 victory over the Washington Capitals in Game 3. Rangers coach John Tortorella certainly wasn’t going to wait any longer to get Staal right back into the heart of the action. Once Staal was given the go-ahead to play, Tortorella took advantage of the much-needed lineup addition.
Defenseman Marc Staal also continued to acclimate himself to slightly blurred vision in his right eye and a visor. While Staal said he needs to gain confidence and feel more comfortable, he didn’t rule out the possibility that he could play against Washington, either.
“I don’t want to go down that road yet,” Staal said. “As of right now, I haven’t made a decision one way or the other. I think it’s gonna go day by day. If I feel good enough and make the decision to go, then I’ll go … I haven’t written myself off.”
Marc Staal took part in full-team practice for the first time since taking a deflected puck to the eye more than a month ago.
Despite the obvious optimism, Staal remains cautious about any posisble return to the Rangers lineup in the near future. The Rangers have six games remaining on their schedule, and the regular season concludes a week from this Saturday with a home contest against the Devils.
Staal, still out indefinitely, said when he does return, the only equipment change he might make is going to a new Bauer helmet that is supposed to provide more protection.
Staal is intensifying his practices and could get back into the lineup over the next month barring a setback. Skating at full speed this morning is certainly a good sign for the team's alternate captain.