Stalberg learning his lessons on the fly
By adam l. jahns Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org February 2, 2011 12:10AM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Viktor Stalberg’s second season in the NHL has been a learning experience. The Blackhawks winger is still trying to find his role while contributing as much as he can.
“It’s been an up-and-down,” Stalberg said. “I’ve followed along as the team has played pretty much. We’ve had some ups and downs as a team and I’ve followed that cycle a bit. I’m not scoring as much as I would like to, but it’s also tough when you’re playing 10 minutes a game. You’re really not in the lineup to score goals. But I try to contribute in any way I can.”
Stalberg has played on all of the Hawks’ lines this year, and his ice time has fluctuated. He found chemistry with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane at one point, but now finds himself settled in on the fourth line with Jake Dowell and Jack Skille.
That line was a factor Tuesday in Nick Leddy’s first-period goal. Stalberg also scored on a breakout after his roughing penalty expired in the second. The Stalberg-Dowell-Skille combination has yielded similar results throughout the season.
“If I’m playing on the fourth line, I try to play more physical and simpler,” said Stalberg, who played with Patrick Sharp and Tomas Kopecky when Marian Hossa sat out with vertigo against the Minnesota Wild on Jan. 25.
“When I’ve been on that [fourth] line, we’ve done a pretty good job as a group. I just keep working away. My goal this year was to have a full-time NHL roster spot and play a full a season. I’ve done that, and hopefully, I can improving toward the end of the season.”
Stalberg, who is valued for his speed, has already surpassed his game total from last season, where he had nine goals and 14 points in 40 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Every point this year is a new career high for Stalberg. Playing on the fourth line has been an adjustment for Stalberg, who saw more minutes with Toronto.
“There’s a lot of guys that come into this league thinking they’re going to be a scorer, but end up being fourth-liners,” Stalberg said. “I’m happy so far. I feel like I’m doing things to help the team out. I want to keep progressing as a player. I’ve always been a late bloomer. I’m sure it will take me a little longer to find my role in the NHL than maybe some other guys. But I’ll keep working away and keep getting better and better.”
More on Marty
As if the All-Star break wasn’t enough, Marty Turco last saw game action Jan. 16, a 6-3 victory against the Nashville Predators. But he got the start Tuesday over Corey Crawford, who became the Hawks’ No. 1 goalie in November.
Turco, though, said he knew he would start against Columbus for a while, and said he would have a “just have at it” approach.
“Every game is huge, and no matter who’s in the lineup, every night you just have to rock,” Turco said.
Veteran defenseman Nick Boynton played instead of Jordan Hendry for the second consecutive game. Ryan Johnson (lower-body) didn’t travel with the team, while enforcer John Scott was a healthy scratch.
◆ Neiman Marcus on Michigan Avenue will be displaying signed Hawks “hearts” as part of Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute’s consumer awareness campaign through Feb. 28.