Eric Staal has played against his brothers often in the NHL. Tonight, there will be a different twist: for the first time he'll play with one.
Staal will play his second preseason game as the Canes go to Atlanta to face the Thrashers. Also in the lineup will be Jared Staal, the youngest of the four Staal brothers, who will be playing in his first with the Canes.
Needless to say, both are excited about it.
"I've never played with him before so it should be a different experience," Jared Staal said today.
"He's a good player so it will be nice to watch him live for the first time. It should be good."
While all the Staal brothers see each other in the summer in Thunder Bay, working out and skating together, Eric said he hasn't seen Jared play very much hockey the last 10 years. Eric left home at 14 and been away from Jared during hockey seasons, first in junior then in the NHL.
"Every time I came home in the summer he'd be another couple of inches taller," Eric said. "Bigger and taller, every time I saw him.
"It's one thing to skate together in the summer and see the skill level but it's another thing to be on the ice with the physicality, with the pace of the game. It's a totally different thing just being on the ice in practice or a scrimmage."
Or tonight, in a game.
"Finally getting to play with my older brother should be a cool experience," Jared said.
While Eric is the team captain and resident star, Jared is trying to win a spot on the team. His focus tonight, he said, will be doing the things he does well, not concentrating on playing with his brother.
"I need to be responsible out there but I don't want to be afraid to make mistakes," Jared said. "Just have fun, stay loose and play a simple game."
Coach Paul Maurice said Jared earned a chance to play in a preseason game in the course of training camp.
"Jared has come to camp and, I thought, worked exceptionally hard," Maurice said. "His effort level is very high and he's one of those guys who looks like he's gotten stronger as this camp has gone along."