Brandon Saad was back on the top line, but Viktor Stalberg was still out of the top four forward lines when the Chicago Blackhawks practiced at Johnny’s IceHouse West on Monday morning.
The Blackhawks now know it’ll be Detroit in the second round – Game 1 is 7 p.m. CT on Wednesday and the NHL will announce the rest of the schedule, for this and other series, after tonight’s games. But how they’ll work their lineups is still a bit up in the air.
Michal Handzus was out today for “maintenance,” coach Joel Quenneville said. Quenneville hoped Handzus will return to practice on Tuesday. Dave Bolland, who will likely start Game 1 at the No. 3 center spot, filled in as the No. 2 center today in Handzus’ absence. Brandon Saad, who was among extra forwards during Saturday’s practice, was once again there with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa today.
But what about Stalberg? This is the second practice he’s been out of the four-line rotation after playing just about all of this season on the third line. Clearly, a message is being sent. Whether or not it’s being received is uncertain. And whether or not Stalberg will play in Game 1 on Wednesday is also unknown. When asked about it, Quenneville just said, “we’ll see.”
It would be a surprise if Stalberg didn’t play in this series. Yes, he didn’t have the most noticeable series against the Minnesota Wild. But this type of game against the Wings plays to his strengths; and coming off a first-round victory, Quenneville probably doesn’t want to thinker with the lineup too much.