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Insider: Switching Staal

Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2008

Burning question: What is the difference between playing at center or on the wing?

Breakdown: Coach Michel Therrien said forward Jordan Staal, a natural center, is a candidate to play left wing on one of the top scoring lines.

PuckSpeak: "It's a little different. If you're used to getting your speed all the time, that's something you have to get used to -- starting from your stance a little bit more. Responsibility in your own end changes. Most times, centers are down low working with the defensemen. When you're a winger, you're down low marking the defensemen. It's a little bit different. But we've all played different positions down the line, and it's something you get used to eventually."

-- center Sidney Crosby, who briefly skated on the wing as a rookie in 2005-06

Looking ahead: Left wing Ryan Malone's departure left a void for a true power forward on the scoring lines, especially considering his how much the Penguins benefitted from his chemistry with center Evgeni Malkin, equally dynamic as a scorer and playmaker, and right wing Petr Sykora, a true sniper.

Staal, who stands 6-foot-4 and weights 220 pounds, fits Malone's stature. He also scored 29 goals as Malkin's left wing in 2006-07; Malone tallied only 27 goals last season.

Staal's oft-praised defensive work could actually free room for Malkin, who he said "is kind of all over the ice anyways, so (position) doesn't really matter."




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