Hawks’ Viktor Stalberg returns for Game 3 after being benched for first two games
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org May 20, 2013 10:27PM
Updated: May 21, 2013 12:16AM
Viktor Stalberg had a different perspective on the Blackhawks’ Game 2 loss than his teammates. Literally — he was watching it from up in the press box. He had a bird’s-eye view of what went wrong, and as he returned to the lineup for Monday’s Game 3, he knew he could help.
“We got outworked, we didn’t really play hard enough, and I think speed was a factor,” Stalberg said. “We didn’t skate hard enough.”
Stalberg, of course, is arguably the Hawks’ fastest skater.
It’s doubtful his presence would have singlehandedly changed the outcome of the game. But he clearly was eager to get back on the ice and help out after being benched for the first two games of the Western Conference semifinals for, according to Stalberg, coach Joel Quenneville’s displeasure with his lack of intensity on the ice.
The trick, of course, was to rein himself in for Game 3 and not try to make it all up at once.
“I think that’s always a challenge — you may be too excited at times,” Stalberg said.
He might have been a little too intense at the start. On his first shift, he made a run at Detroit’s Jakub Kindl in the corner, but missed the check and slammed face-first into the boards. Play was stopped and Stalberg was helped off the ice to the dressing room. He only missed two shifts, however.
Stalberg was strong from then on, scoring the goal that was disallowed in the third period, and hitting the crossbar on a mini-break a minute after Pavel Datsyuk made it 3-1 Wings.
“It wasn’t the greatest start,” he said. “Almost killed myself [on the] first shift. But other than that, I felt pretty good. I thought I progressed as the game went along.”
With Stalberg back in the lineup, the third line of Bryan Bickell, Andrew Shaw and Stalberg was reunited. Dave Bolland moved back up to the second line and Michal Handzus — who hasn’t been practicing lately — dropped to the fourth line, bumping Daniel Carcillo from the lineup. Early on, Quenneville had Patrick Sharp skating on the top line and Brandon Saad on the second line.
Home away from home
The Hawks entered Game 3 with a 9-0-1 mark in their last 10 games at Joe Louis Arena.
“It’s a fun place to play,” Patrick Kane said. “There’s a lot of history here. It’s a great rivalry between the Hawks and the Wings. They have some of the best ice in the league, which favors us a little bit probably because of how fast we are and how skilled we are up front. … It’s one of those things where you’re not worried too much about looking down at the puck or the puck rolling on you. It’s just a fun place to play hockey.”
Detroit coach Mike Babcock first saw Marian Hossa play when he coached Canada in the 1997 World Junior Championships (at the time, he also was the head coach of Spokane in the Western Hockey League). Canada beat the Slovakian team that had both Hossa and Michal Handzus.
“I told our general manager in Spokane we needed to get him,” Babcock said. “We weren’t willing to pay the 50 grand to get him. Portland got him. And played there, won the Memorial Cup. I’ve been following him ever since. He’s just gotten better and better.”
Babcock got to coach Hossa for one season in Detroit, 2008-09.