Henrik Lundqvist said he was "shocked" during the Winter Classic pre-game warmups to see Marc Staal skating with his Rangers' teammates, preparing to play in his first game of the 2011-12 season. But the night before the outdoor game against the Flyers Staal and head coach John Tortorella decided that the All-Star defenseman was ready to return from his concussion. So Staal stepped on to the ice for his first shift of the season less than two minutes into the Winter Classic, the first of the 12:41 worth of ice-time he received, skating primarily with rookie Stu Bickel, but with long-time partner Dan Girardi on occasion, as well. In fact, when Ryan McDonagh was penalized with 5:12 left to play in the game, there was Staal paired with Girardi for the all-important penalty kill in a one-goal game. "It was a bit nervewracking," Staal admitted after the game. "I hadn't played for a while before that, but it was cool to get back out there with something on the line, and to get that adrenaline back pumping." Staal finished a +1, on ice for Mike Rupp's first goal of the game, and was credited with one hit. "He did an amazing job," Lundqvist said of Staal. "It's not easy to come in here and play your first game in 10 months in this atmosphere. The confidence he will bring to our group is going to be huge." Share your thoughts below on Staal's return to the lineup.
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