Marc Staal says he's ready to play

Updated: December 30, 2013, 2:27 PM ET
By Katie Strang | ESPNNewYork.com

New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said he expects to return to the lineup Tuesday against the Florida Panthers after missing 10 games due to a concussion suffered earlier this month.

Staal, who made his plans known after practicing Monday, was injured in the Rangers' 4-3 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 7 after taking a hard hit from Reid Boucher along the boards during the third period.

Staal's absence concerned the Rangers, and not just because of his value to the team's back end. Staal, 26, has missed extended time the past two seasons -- more than half of the lockout-shortened 2013 season with a serious eye injury and 36 games in 2011-12 because of a concussion.

With Staal's return anticipated, the Rangers might sit Justin Falk or Michael Del Zotto. Coach Alain Vigneault said Monday that he hasn't finalized his lineup.

Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPN.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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