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Jordan Staal will make season debut tonight at Winter Classic

2011 NHL Winter Classic Practice

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 31: Jordan Staal #11 of the Pittsburgh Penguins deflects a puck on Brent Johnson #1 during the 2011 NHL Winter Classic Practice on December 31, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Justin K. Aller

As if you needed a little more juice for tonight’s Winter Classic in Pittsburgh. Penguins center Jordan Staal will make his season debut tonight. Staal said he was playing after the Pens morning skate at CONSOL Energy Center and the Pens were a bit excited to make the declaration on their website.

Discussion picked up about Staal playing and Pens coach Dan Bylsma tried to nip discussion in the bud after yesterday’s practice at Heinz Field. Staal has been out all season thanks to injuries to his foot and his hand. The hand injury is what has kept him out of late.

We can’t expect Staal to play a ton of minutes tonight, but we figure we’ll see him play with Evgeni Malkin a bit. Bylsma’s original plan this year was to have Staal center a line with Malkin on his wing. Staal coming back to the Pens lineup makes a dangerous team that much more formidable to play against.