In the middle of Saturday's loss to Toronto, Alain Vigneault moved Marc Staal up in the rangers lineup and paired him with Ryan McDonagh on the Rangers top pair.
In the season opener, Staal played 15:20 and, since being moved up, has played 18:51 (Toronto), 19:08 (Montreal) and 18:43 against St. Louis.
Vigneault said on Tuesday that he felt Staal was playing "some pretty solid hockey" when the change was made and that Ryan McDonagh, who was moved to the right side, is good at making adjustments.
He added, "we are trying to win games here and in Toronto, after the first period, we had to do something with our D and Staal was playing well and we felt that playing with Mac would be a pretty good pair and it was a good pair last game."
Staal said that he came to training camp "determined" to let his play do the talking and approached this season "a little more angry" than normal. (NY Post)
So far this season, when Staal is on the ice at 5 on 5 the Rangers have 54% of the shot attempts and 31 scoring chances for and 23 against. (Natural Stat Trick)
Adam Rotter: At some point this season Marc Staal was going to re-enter the Rangers top-four on defense. Whether it was going to be because of injury, performance or even just for a game or two, it was going to happen. I didn't expect it to happen after the fourth period of the season but I also didn't expect the Rangers to struggle defensively as much as they did up to that point. Staal definitely came into this season with something to prove and I thought he could do well in a third pairing and PK role. With 78 games remaining in the season it's hard to predict where Staal will ultimately find his role, but I'm not sure anyone expected him to be in his current role, and certainly not this early in the season.