Blackhawks’ Viktor Stalberg likely to play in Game 3
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org May 19, 2013 6:57PM
Updated: May 20, 2013 12:15PM
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said forward Viktor Stalberg is ‘‘likely playing’’ in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Detroit Red Wings after being a healthy scratch in the first two games.
Stalberg, who did his best to hide his disappointment with the demotion after playing in all but one regular-season game, was more matter-of-fact than excited about possibly returning to the ice.
In fact, he subtly made the point that he’s the same motivated, hard-working player he was before the demotion.
‘‘I don’t want to make too big of a deal out of it,’’ Stalberg said after practice Sunday at the United Center. ‘‘It’s frustrating [to sit out]. I want to go out and play the same way I have all year. If they didn’t think I did that the first time, so be it.
‘‘At the end of the day, it made us successful all year, personally and from a line standpoint, too. That’s all I’m looking to do now. I’m not going to change anything. Just keep playing the same way — play hard and be tough to play against. Use my speed to create something out there.’’
Stalberg’s apparent return puts somebody else on the bubble. Daniel Carcillo, who has played on the fourth line the last four games, could be out. Michal Handzus, who missed practice again Sunday with an apparent injury, also is a candidate to sit.
Stalberg’s demotion has been the biggest point of contention for the Hawks in the playoffs. Being able to scratch a skater with his speed against the Red Wings is quite the luxury.
It was one the Hawks could afford until a 4-1 loss in Game 2 made Stalberg look like a missing ingredient. However, as Stalberg pointed out, his speed wouldn’t have made much of a difference in the teamwide clunker.
‘‘I think that’s an asset we really need on this team. I don’t think it’s just one player,’’ Stalberg said. ‘‘We didn’t play with much speed throughout the lineup [in Game 2]. It’s going to be hard for us to be successful. We’re looking to play a speed game no matter if I’m in or not. That’s what we’ve got to do [in Game 3].
Though Stalberg clearly was miffed for being scratched, Quenneville said he was happy with the way the veteran forward responded.
‘‘It’s always tough,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘You’re used to playing. And watching is something that you’re not accustomed to. But I thought he handled it well. In practices, you could see things. The attitude — he did what he had to do to keep himself ready.’’
Stalberg said it was frustrating to sit out the first two games.
‘‘It’s always frustrating. You want to play. You want to help out,’’ he said. ‘‘Being on the sidelines is never fun. Most of us made it here because we’re competitive people. We want to play. We want to be the best. You want to be out there.’’
Quenneville said he explained to Stalberg the reasons he was benched. It doesn’t appear it was much more than a matter of playing harder and being more productive, the usual pep talk for a player in that situation.
‘‘Probably he wanted me to change some things up,’’ Stalberg said. ‘‘But at the end of the day, that’s a pretty standard line. I don’t think it’s any different from what other guys hear when they’re sitting out.
‘‘I think I’ve heard that before if I’ve sat out a game. I don’t know when the last time was. He wants me to just play, and if I play the same way I have all year, I think we’ll be all right.’’