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Insider: Staal ready for power-play spot? |

Insider: Staal ready for power-play spot?

| Friday, October 3, 2008 12:00 a.m

Burning question: Is left wing Jordan Staal ready to fill the power-play spot vacated by departed Ryan Malone?

Breakdown: Staal will open his third NHL season with the opportunity he most craved — to play with fellow top-two overall picks Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the Penguins’ first power-play unit.

PuckSpeak: “It’s a big opportunity for (me). I want to take advantage of it.”

— Staal

Looking ahead: Staal has scored only seven power-play goals in 163 regular-season games — though, in fairness, he has never played consistently on the top advantage unit.

Malone scored 11 power-play goals last season playing in front of the cage — a position on the ice still new to Staal.

“(As a junior player), I played down low, along the goal line, like where (Miroslav) Satan is (on the Penguins’ power-play set up),” said Staal, who is listed at 6-feet-4, 220 pounds. “I’ve been all over the place. Seems like that’s been happening a lot lately, but as long as I’m out there, I don’t care.”

Assistant coach Mike Yeo, who operates the Penguins’ power play, believes Staal is a great fit in front.

“He’s big, he’s strong, and he’s got great hands,” Yeo said. “With his size, reach and those hands, I really think he’s going to be a great presence for us. He creates traffic by himself.”

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