Viktor Stalberg (25) scuffles with Jack Johnson of the Kings in the third period at the United Center Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011, in Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times
Updated: January 30, 2012 10:36AM
Winger Viktor Stalberg’s speed and scoring touch stand out. But it’s his willingness to learn a checking role that has linemates Dave Bolland and Bryan Bickell talking.
‘‘He asks a lot of questions,’’ Bickell said. ‘‘I think he’s the first player I’ve played with that after every shift he’s asking me something about what I need to do or what I can help him in or vice versa. That’s good to have the communication on the bench. It’s been fun playing with him.’’
Stalberg had seven points in the Hawks’ last four games before going scoreless Wednesday against the Los Angeles Kings.
‘‘I had some good chances,’’ Stalberg said. ‘‘There were a couple of rebounds there and almost empty nets, but somehow they dove in there and got a stick on it.’’
Stalberg’s recent hot streak has alleviated concerns about the Hawks’ lack of scoring depth. It also has ignited Bickell and Bolland on the third line.
Bolland said he likes to get the puck to Stalberg where he can use his speed.
‘‘He’s a great player,’’ Bolland said. ‘‘If we can utilize his speed and get him the puck, he can be a big help to us on that third line.’’
Forward Patrick Kane came down with strep throat during the Christmas break. It kept him out of practice Tuesday, but he was in the lineup against the Kings.
He played through the ailment Monday against the Columbus Blue Jackets and said he felt better Wednesday.
‘‘It’s never fun to miss a day after a game, especially after you have four off for Christmas,’’ Kane said. ‘‘I thought I’d come in and be feeling a little bit better, but I decided to take a day off [Tuesday] and rest a little bit. It definitely helped.’’
On the Kings
Darryl Sutter faced the Hawks for the first time as the Kings’ coach. Sutter, a former winger, spent his entire playing career with the Hawks (1979-87) and later coached them for three seasons (1992-95).
Sutter resigned as the general manager of the Calgary Flames in December 2010. He took over as the Kings’ coach Dec. 17, five days after Terry Murray was fired because of a poor start.
In and out
Defenseman Steve Montador missed practice Tuesday and the morning skate Wednesday but was the Hawks’ fifth defenseman against the Kings. Defenseman Sami Lepisto was the Hawks’ only healthy scratch, with center Marcus Kruger out with a concussion and winger Daniel Carcillo on injured reserve.