After a 35-game absence, Jordan Staal will be back in the Carolina lineup this evening when the ‘Canes host the Habs at PNC Arena.
Staal, who suffered a broken fibula during the preseason, was activated off IR earlier today and will center the club’s top line next to his brother, Eric Staal, who’ll play right wing, while Nathan Gerbe will play the left side.
The hope for Carolina and head coach Bill Peters is that Staal can inject some life into the offense. The ‘Canes scored one or no goals in nine of their games in December, and currently sit 29th in the NHL in goals per game (2.0).
Jordan Staal is set to make his season debut when the Carolina Hurricanes play host to the Montreal Canadiens Monday night.
Staal has missed the first 35 games after suffering a fractured fibula during a preseason game against the Buffalo Sabres in September.
Canes’ coach Bill Peters said the team will monitor Staal’s minutes against the Canadiens.
Staal, 26, had 15 goals and 40 points in 82 games with Carolina last season.
Additionally, Jiri Tlusty, who has missed 16 games with an upper body injury, is expected to make his return to the Carolina lineup Monday.
Tlusty has 10 goals and 13 points in 28 games this season.
Jordan Staal hasn’t played yet this season because of a broken leg suffered in September, but his recovery is almost over. Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said the 26-year-old forward is close to returning and Carolina’s game against Montreal on Dec. 29 looks like a reasonable target date, per NHL.com writer Dan Rosen.
Going into tonight’s contest against the New York Rangers, the Hurricanes have posted a lousy 9-19-4 record without Staal this season. While he hasn’t emerged as a star player, he is a valuable two-way forward that will provide Carolina with a significant boost. At the same time, it’s hard to envision Staal — or any one player — being capable of digging Carolina out of its sizable hole.
The Hurricanes rank 29th in the league, ahead of only the Edmonton Oilers. They would need to close a six-point gap just to climb out of the Eastern Conference basement and are a staggering 14 points behind in the playoff race.
If nothing else though, once Staal returns, the Hurricanes might find themselves close to full strength. Alexander Semin, who missed five straight games with a lower-body injury, was activated ahead of Sunday’s contest.