While it’s looking like the Winter Classic could be moved to an evening start, the one upside to that for Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma is that it’ll give him a little extra time to make a roster decision on Jordan Staal. During today’s post-practice news conference Bylsma said that Staal will be a game-time decision on whether or not he plays.
“Whoever’s going to ask the Jordan Staal question, whoever that might be, he’ll be a game-time decision,” Bylsma said after the Penguins practice at Heinz Field.
Should Staal play tomorrow it’ll mark his first action of the year as he missed training camp and all of this season with separate injuries to his hand and his foot. Staal was slated to be center on a line with Evgeni Malkin before the season began and Bylsma said that that initial plan could hold true whenever Staal returns to the lineup.
Whether or not it’s a good idea for Staal to make his return on what could be a questionable ice surface outdoors at Heinz Field is up for debate. Losing Staal again would be a brutal blow for the Pens. While they haven’t missed him so far this year, a player of his caliber is necessary come playoff time.