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Hawks’ forward trio faring quite well

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



VANCOUVER, British Columbia — It didn’t take long for the “wow” moments to wear off for Blackhawks forwards Ben Smith, Michael Frolik and Viktor Stalberg. It probably took the first hate-filled check they endured from the Vancouver Canucks.

It’s a good thing, too.

All three have had their up-and-down moments in the playoffs, and all have played with different players through the first five games of the series and their postseason debuts. But they’ve fared well in key moments, which must make many in the Hawks organization smile as they look down the road.

‘‘I’m trying to prove my best every day and hope that people recognize that, and hopefully down the road it will pay off,’’ said Smith, the Hawks’ leader in Game 2 when he scored twice. ‘‘A few weeks ago, I probably wouldn’t have thought this would happen. But you have to believe in yourself, and you have to believe in your abilities — and when you do that, usually good things happen. I’m very grateful for that.’’

For Stalberg, playing with an edge and agitating the Canucks — in addition to using his speed — has paid off, especially after he had some down moments in the regular season. Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa took exception to Stalberg’s style in Game 4 and went after him late in the third period.

Chalk it up as another learning experience in the playoffs.

‘‘I didn’t see him coming,” Stalberg said. ‘‘He kind of dropped the gloves on me right before and jumped on me. It’s part of playoff hockey. There’s nothing I can really do about that.”

Frolik’s skill level has been an upgrade for the Hawks since he was acquired from the Florida Panthers for Jack Skille. He’s had some snake-bitten moments, but his ability to play all three forward positions and play well defensively has been huge. Now he’s on Dave Bolland’s checking line.

‘‘It’s my first playoff. I didn’t expect [anything],” said Frolik, a standout in Game 4 for his three-point game. ‘‘It’s been great; it’s a great experience for me. The pace level and everything is higher. I’m just enjoying it and trying to have fun with it.”

Trash talk at the UC

Some members of the Canucks’ front-office staff — including general manager Mike Gillis and assistant GM Laurence Gilman — got into a verbal exchange with some Hawks fans on the 300 level of the United Center during
Game 4, which the Hawks won 7-2. The Canucks staff was sitting in a booth in the press box.

“We took it for a couple of periods before somebody got fed up and said, ‘Why don’t you shut up and go back to your mother’s basement?’ — and of course that really got them going,” Gilman told the Vancouver Province. ‘‘It’s pretty tiring hearing that over a long night.’’



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