Marc Staal’s Return Imminent?

There are mixed reports that Marc Staal could be very close to returning to the lineup, with one ESPN analyst saying it could be as early as this afternoon in the Winter Classic against the Philadelphia Flyers.

John Buccigross tweeted that he is hearing Staal “is playing in the Winter Classic” at 3 pm this afternoon.

Meanwhile, NY Post writer Larry Brooks said Staal’s return could come Thursday against the Florida Panthers. There was speculation yesterday after Ryan McDonagh left the ice with flu-like symptoms and Staal stepped in to practice with Dan Girardi, but head coach John Tortorella said McDonagh is fine.

Not sure what to make of Buccigross’ tweet. I’d be very surprised if Staal were to make his season debut today, especially after Tortorella said McDonagh was healthy enough to play. Unless something drastic happened over night and McDonagh’s symptoms worsened, I’d be very shocked to see Staal suit-up today in Philadelphia.

With that said, I would not be surprised to see Staal play Thursday night at Madison Square Garden against the Panthers. Today’s game is going to be extremely physical and everyone’s adrenaline will be running high, which could be dangerous for Staal to jump back into. 

Follow Matt on Twitter @MattCalamia

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