On Sunday night, most of the reports coming out of Philadelphia stated that Marc Staal would not be making his season debut in the 2012 Winter Classic.
Those reports came despite Staal practicing on Sunday next to Dan Girardi on the Rangers’ top defensive unit. That apparently was mostly due to Ryan McDonagh being out with the flu, but the two would swap prior to gametime.
Staal hasn’t appeared in a game this season because of lingering effects from a concussion sustained in a hit from his brother Eric Staal, last season. He was cleared for contact a week ago, but was considered a long shot to make an appearance in the Classic.
Now comes the report that Staal will actually be making his debut in the Classic against the Flyers on Monday. This is sure to elate the entire city of New York and only adds to the intrigue of an affair already packed with storylines.
Marc becomes the second consecutive member of the Staal family to make his season debut in the Winter Classic. Jordan Staal made his first appearance in the 2010-2011 season in the Classic, when the Penguins lost to the Washington Capitals.
Staal has 81 points in 321 career games, to go along with 318 hits. It’s not known yet who could be forced out of the lineup with Staal’s return, but it’s expected to be either Stu Bickel or Jeff Woywitka. Staal will skate on the third pairing to start.