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Marc Staal expects to play again this season

Washington Capitals v New York Rangers - Game Three

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 17: Marc Staal #18 of the New York Rangers celebrates with teammates on the bench after Vaclav Prospal #20 scored a goal in the third period in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 17, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Rangers defenseman Marc Staal is “feeling better” and plans to play hockey sometime this season, but a return to action is still “a ways away.”

“I feel that I’ll be back,” he told reporters today after taking a light skate, adding he needs to get back in the gym and regain his strength after being shut down for a month.

Staal suffered a concussion in February in a game against Carolina, courtesy a check from his brother, Eric.

Staal (Marc) came back in March and played all the way until the Rangers were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. He said it was “his decision to play,” though maybe he “sugar coated things” with regards to how he actually felt.

The Rangers (13-5-3) have been rolling along just fine without Staal, but you have to wonder how long before fatigue becomes a factor for fellow blue-liners Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh. Both defensemen have been forced to play big minutes in Staal’s absence. Girardi’s 27:41 per game is the highest in the NHL.