Player of the Week – March 9

The Hockey News’ player of the week for March 2 to 8, 2009 is 6-foot-4, 205-pound Carolina Hurricanes center Eric Staal.

The oldest of the Staal brothers had a big week – highlighted by one really big game – tallying four goals and nine points in three Carolina victories.

In a Southeast Division showdown last Tuesday, Staal, 24, had a goal and was plus-1, while playing 23-plus minutes as the Hurricanes blew away the division-leading Washington Capitals 5-2 in the U.S. capital. The Canes then traveled home for a Friday game versus the newly stacked and Northwest Division-leading Calgary Flames; it was no contest. Carolina prevailed 6-1 and Staal had two assists in 18:15 of ice time.

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On Saturday, Staal, the second overall pick in 2003, solidified his position as THN’s player of the week during a 9-3 Carolina victory over woeful Tampa Bay. Staal tied two Hartford/Carolina records with four goals – one of which was shorthanded – and six points. Staal was also plus-4 on the evening, all in just 13:55 of ice time.

Carolina’s three victories last week moved them to within a single point of a playoff spot, making the five through 10 spots in the Eastern Conference that much tighter.