Without the firepower of Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ lineup, all eyes will be on Jordan Staal to step up in their absence.
Malkin has recently been ruled out for the remainder of season after he suffered a double ligament tear in his right knee. Meanwhile, Crosby’s status is unclear as the Penguins’ captain recovers from post-concussion syndrome. Some reports suggest that he will be sidelined until March but as studies show, there is no way of telling how soon a player can return as every individual case is unique.
Staal has shown that he has broad enough shoulders to fill some of the offensive void left by the loss of Pittsburgh’s dynamic one-two punch of Crosby and Malkin. The second overall pick in the 2006 draft will not shy away from any extra responsibility placed upon him by head coach Dan Bylsma.
After missing the majority of this season, Staal will be eager to make an impression on his teammates by being counted on to step up his game as he will assume the role of the first line center. Though his reputation around the NHL is best known as a penalty-kill specialist who has a habit of scoring short-handed goals, Staal’s offensive trademarks shouldn’t be overlooked. Staal is a solid two-way forward who is known to have a knack for making opportunistic plays on both ends of the ice.
Stall shined bright during the Penguins’ 2009 playoff run as he scored a collection of crucial goals and made a big impact in the finals against the Detroit Red Wings. He scored a vital short-handed goal in Game 4 as Pittsburgh went on to lift their first Stanley Cup since 1992.
Judging by his past and ability to rebound from adversity, Staal is the perfect man to keep the Penguins near the top of the Eastern Conference until Crosby’s health improves.