McDonald: A Fitting Day For Staal’s Start

(Photo: Facebook)

It is very fitting that today is February 29. The last time the Rangers played on this day, Brian Leetch made his debut right out of the ’88 Olympic team and Marcel Dionne was honored by the club.

So having Marc Staal unite with his big brother Eric is indeed a fitting event for February 29.

And the day didn’t disappoint.

“It was fun,” Marc Staal said. “I think after I signed an extension here last year, I thought maybe that was the end of playing with one of them. It’s pretty awesome to have him come and join me here.”

Look, Eric’s line wasn’t something legendary. He played 15:42, took three shots, and didn’t appear in the scoring sheet. But you can see how he would help the Rangers come playoff time. His ability to protect the puck and his size makes him a perfect power forward for a club looking for one.

But it will take some time. This isn’t like baseball, where you can acquire a third baseman, plug him into a lineup, and bat him fifth. Eric Staal needs to develop some chemistry with his new comrades in blue. So before the social media mavens grab there pitchforks and demand their pound of Staal, you will have to give the elder one some time to become a Ranger.

“Anytime you add a new piece, you change the dynamics of your room,” said coach Alain Vigneault. “You have a guy who comes in here and was a captain and he is going to help our leadership group. You just need to give him time to get used to his new environment.

Time isn’t something New Yorkers are used to giving, especially to their high priced acquisitions. But remember, it took Martin St. Louis a number of games to score his first goal and Keith Yandle is only getting real comfortable in the past month. And some guys never get used to New York.

So what about Staal?

Well just remember, he has his baby bro here and is used to being in the spotlight, even if it was the tobacco drenched shine of Raleigh, NC. Over the next few games, he will become more and more comfortable with his surroundings.

“There’s definitely a lot of going through my head,” Eric Staal said, “not only personally but system-wise and I got to gain AV’s trust in my abilities and what I can do for him and how I can help this group. So there’s of areas that I’ll continue to get better and more comfortable in.”

Today he started centering the third line and then moved up to the top line left wing. That type of versatility will obviously help the Blueshirts, who are made up of many interchangeable parts in the lineup.

But Eric Staal adds the element of size to the lineup. Although it is prevalent on the defense, the forwards tends to be speedy or have size and play small. Chris Kreider shows some flashes and Rick Nash seems to be content being a finesse player in a power forwards body and sure J.T. Miller and Mats Zuccarrello try to make up for it, but there’s just so much you can do with something you can’t teach.

Eric Staal, though, will stand up the power forwards of Washington and help in stopping a John Tavares in the first round.

But still he’s going to need some time.

With 19 games left, Eric Staal should have that Ranger apprenticeship while the team locks itself into playoff position. Today is just the beginning, but February 29 is a good start.

About the Author

Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald is the founder and former publisher of NY Sports Day. After selling to i15Media in 2020, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief and responsible for the editorial side of the publication. In the past, Joe was the managing editor of NY Sportscene magazine and assistant editor of Mets Inside Pitch. He has covered the Mets since 2004.

Get connected with us on Social Media