Players find out where they are in the lineup during practices or skates when they look in their stall and see what color jersey is hanging there.
For Chicago Blackhawks forwards Viktor Stalberg and Brandon Bollig, Tuesday morning was probably a very surprising look. Bollig had a black jersey, signifying his spot on one of the bottom two lines. Stalberg had a white one, meaning once again this postseason, he’s not on any line.
Stalberg is out and Bollig is in when the Blackhawks host the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final here on Wednesday night. Coach Joel Quenneville, when asked if that’s the case, said there was a “likelihood or probability it could happen.” In other words, those are the changes.
It was a bit of a surprise that Stalberg was once again odd-man out. Then again, his ice time has been very up and down –- mostly down -– over the last series and a half. He played under eight minutes in two consecutive games against Detroit, and played 9:01 or less in three games against the Los Angeles Kings. Since coming back into the lineup in Game 3 against Detroit, Stalberg has two assists and is a minus-3.
“It’s frustrating from a personal standpoint but that’s how it is sometimes,” Stalberg said at Tuesday’s media day. “You go through your struggles. At the same time, it’s tough when you’re only playing eight minutes a night to do something. Being a productive player, sometimes when you don’t get the ice time you have to change your game a bit. I’ve been doing what I’m being asked to, and if they want more toughness in this first game, so be it.”
Bollig will bring a more physical element against a Bruins team that has plenty of that. Bollig, who was with Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik on the Blackhawks’ fourth line today, is understandably revved up for the opportunity.
“Obviously it doesn’t get more exciting than the Stanley Cup Final; it’s something you dream of as a kid and I’m pumped for that,” he said. “I’ll be looking to play my game and provide that (physical) presence. I don’t want to change a thing.”
Bollig admits he was surprised at what he saw this morning. Coach Joel Quenneville doesn’t like to make changes when the Blackhawks are winning. But he did the same thing after the Blackhawks won the Minnesota series –- Stalberg was out for the first two games against Detroit and Daniel Carcillo was in.
“Obviously with the way the playoffs have gone… it’s something that I wouldn’t have expected. But you have to stay ready in case it does happen; that’s what we do every day,” Bollig said. “It’s a bit of a surprise, but a welcome surprise.”
As for Stalberg, he’ll keep a stiff upper lip. He’s frustrated, but will be ready for the next chance.
“I’m ready to play if need be. If I get a chance in this series, I think I can make a difference,” he said. “Hopefully I can get a chance here.”