BOSTON – Viktor Stalberg has ridden the emotional roller coaster throughout this postseason.
He was written out of the lineup at the start of the Stanley Cup Final, the second time this postseason the Chicago Blackhawks’ speedy forward was a healthy scratch for the first two games of a series. And for Game 3 tonight, much like Game 3 against the Red Wings two rounds ago, Stalberg is back in the lineup.
Stalberg skated with fourth liners Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik as the Blackhawks prepared for Game 3 against the Boston Bruins tonight at TD Garden.
Coach Joel Quenneville made it clear what Stalberg needs to do.
“With Viktor, we're just looking for more. I think offensively, defensively, giving us some more in both those areas,” said Quenneville, who added he had no problems with Brandon Bollig’s outings in the first two games. “I think we need some speed from him. I think we need energy. He's a threat off the rush, in zone, defensively responsible. You know, bring energy.”
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Stalberg got word from Quenneville Sunday night he was playing. Stalberg didn’t want to get into his private talk with the coach, the one that probably included the reason why he was out for Games 1 and 2, and now back in again. Stalberg, instead, was focused on what he could do now that he’s playing.
“I’ll do everything I can to get out there more, to try to help the team as much as possible,” Stalberg said. “It’s been what it is. I haven’t had the same role as in the regular season, and sometimes that’s frustrating. It’s give and take. I could be better, and hopefully I’ll be able to come in here and make a difference in the rest of this final.”
Stalberg’s minutes this postseason, much like his role, have fluctuated. He played nearly 15 minutes in Game 5 vs. the Kings, but no more than nine in the previous three games. That, he said, hasn’t helped.
“It’s not just hard for me, hard for anybody. Ask (Patrick Kane) or (Jonathan) Toews, I think they’d struggle with that, too,” he said. “That’s just part of the game. You have to deserve your minutes and clearly they didn’t feel like I did.”
Toews has talked to Stalberg through these ups and downs. He grabbed him quickly on the ice again as the Blackhawks’ morning skate began on Monday.
“Most of that talk is just telling him the boys support him and want him out there with us to help us,” Toews said. “We know he’s the type of guy that can help our team, and he should have all the confidence in the world that he can go out there and make something happen for us. It’s not always an easy thing when you’re sitting out a few games here and there, especially with the ability he has as a player. But he’s sacrificed a lot for this team, and his teammates are very aware of it.”