Jacket killer Viktor Stalberg goes pointless
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org January 26, 2013 9:56PM
Chicago Blackhawks v Columbus Blue Jackets
Updated: February 28, 2013 7:11AM
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Viktor Stalberg didn’t get 40 minutes of ice time Saturday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, but it must have been tempting for Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville.
After all, Stalberg scored eight goals in six games against Columbus last season, posting a plus-11 in those games. In his other 73 appearances, he had 14 goals and was a minus-5.
Stalberg couldn’t explain it.
“I think it’s more of a fluke than anything,” he said before the game. “But you get a little more confidence against certain teams and certain goalies. It seems like I had his number last year.”
Stalberg had two two-goal games against Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason and a hat trick against Curtis Sanford, who’s playing in Russia’s KHL.
Quenneville also called Stalberg’s Columbus mastery a “fluky stat,” saying sometimes guys are just “charmed or lucky against certain opponents.” But Quenneville has been quite pleased with Stalberg’s performance on the Hawks’ third line with Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell — Quenneville was reluctant to call it a “checking line” — and his effort as the net-front presence on the power play, a new role this season. Stalberg, who had a career-high 22 goals last season, scored even-strength goals against the Phoenix Coyotes and St. Louis Blues.
“Viktor’s quick off the rush, he’s got a dangerous and sneaky shot and he got some power-play time based on how he performed the last couple of years,” Quenneville said. “He’s learning the position and mentality of trying to be that net-front guy on the power play. It’s a work in progress. So far, so good.”
Stalberg did not get a point Saturday against the Blue Jackets.
Back in action
Jamal Mayers was a healthy scratch the first three games but replaced Brandon Bollig on the fourth line for Thursday’s overtime victory in Dallas. He played only 6 minutes, 49 seconds, the least on the team, in his season debut.
Mayers was just happy to put on his uniform rather than another suit — “I’ve got a lot of suits; I’ll be fine,” he said — and to not jinx the team’s hot start.
“Obviously, you want to be in there,” he said. “I’m glad we got the win. I didn’t want to be bad luck — I get in there, and we lose.”
Also back in the lineup Saturday was defenseman Sheldon Brookbank, in for Michal Rozsival, who played the previous three games.