Penguins center Staal gets to 400-game level

| Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011

Penguins center Jordan Staal, 23, became the seventh-youngest player in NHL history to reach the 400-game milestone, doing so Tuesday in a game against older brother Eric and the Carolina Hurricanes.

"I heard that this morning," Jordan Staal said. "I didn't really know (when) it was coming. I feel old."

If Staal hadn't missed the first half of last season with foot and hand injuries, he would have been even higher on the list of youngest players to play 400 games. The center has also been busy in the playoffs, participating in 67 postseason contests.

Staal, despite being hindered by multiple injuries, is having perhaps his best season. He has scored 13 goals.

He summarized his desire to enhance his statistics while keeping in mind the ultimate goal.

"There's always room for improvement," Staal said. "As a player, I always want to get better. Offensively. Defensively. Everything. The more Cups, the better."

Coach Dan Bylsma has been delighted with Staal's play this season and believes the best is yet to come.

"You forget how young he is," Bylsma said. "If you're looking for a guy to vault into the top 10 in scoring in the league, I'm not sure that's what his upside is. But this year, the way he can dominate a game on both sides of the (rink), is where his game can go."

No Martin yet

Penguins defenseman Paul Martin is close to returning following an unidentified injury that he sustained in Ottawa on Oct. 18, but he was unable to play against Carolina. Bylsma believes Martin will play either Thursday against Philadelphia or Saturday in New Jersey.

No Crosby, Letang news

The Penguins again are reporting that the status of center Sidney Crosby and defenseman Kris Letang, both out because of concussion-like symptoms, is unchanged. Crosby hasn't played since Dec. 5; Letang has been out since Nov. 26.

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