For each player who suited up in a Blueshirt this season we will take the good, we will take the bad and take them both and see what we have. And this time around we started with the high numbers and are up to #18, Marc Staal.
#18's #s: 77 games, 7 goals, 22 assists, +8, 50 PIM (5 playoff games, no goals, one assist, -3, no PIM).
Take the good: Staal was the workhorse of the defensive corps, averaging more than 25 minutes per game and playing against the top talents in the league. He is one of the only defenders singlehandedly capable of containing Alexander Ovechkin. Strong and sturdy, he combined with Dan Girardi on the Rangers' top pairing. Staal rarely takes bad penalties and has apparently sworn off fighting (he has not thrown the gloves since the infamous bongo incident) ... although he should have tossed off the gloves after getting a stick to the crotch by Alex Burrows. He had my favourite hit of the season against the Islanders.
Take the bad: Had the NHL wheel o' justice been turning the way it did in the playoffs, we would have lost Staal for quite a while for his hit on Matt Stajan. Staal clearly was battered, bruised and tired by the end of the season. Despite the maturation of Sauer and McDonagh, he only saw less than 20 minutes once the entire year. He unleashed a personal best 116 shots but few were of the quality that he is capable of. Staal saw plenty of power play time and never looked comfortable. And he got absolutely hammered by his own brother, the same brother who waited until the seventh round to draft him at the All Star game. That can't be good for family dinners.
Take them both and then we have: Our number one defenseman, for now. Staal is big, he is strong and he is smart. He skates hard and is rock solid in his own zone. He still doesn't know when to carry the puck or join the rush and surprises most everyone when he does it. I mean, the guy can score a goal like this, why doesn't he do it more often?