Staal is far and away the most important player that needs to respond well to the Aho injury. Not only is he one of the co-captains, along with defenseman Justin Faulk, he’s a skilled first line center with the potential to have a career-best season.
His production comes in spurts this season, but he’s had a few massive moments in January already. A shorthanded goal in a 3-1 road win, over a Metro foe in the Washington Capitals, was a major factor in one of Carolina’s biggest wins so far.
In his last five outings, Staal racked up five points. He’s taking off at the right time, so that the Canes can possibly get hot down the stretch. It’s nice that the Canes are in position to stay in the playoff race halfway through.
Usually Staal is part of a team in position to climb out of the basement of the division standings. But, he’s helped the team get in a good spot in the Metro, and in the conference overall. His help needs to continue for the Canes to stay in a good position.