Stalberg likely returning in Game 3

Stalberg likely returning in Game 3
May 19, 2013, 12:30 pm
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Game Date Location Time/Result
1 Wed., May 15 United Center (W) 4-1
2 Sat., May 18 United Center (L) 4-1
3 Mon., May 20 Joe Louis Arena (L) 3-1
4 Thurs., May 23 Joe Louis Arena L 1-0
5 Sat., May 25 United Center W 4-1
6* Mon., May 27 Joe Louis Arena TBD
7* Wed., May 29 United Center TBD
* If necessary | All times Central

Viktor Stalberg has bided his time, paid his penance, whatever terminology applies to his benching these past two games. But the speedy forward said he’s ready to bring his speed back to the Chicago Blackhawks, and it looks like Joel Quenneville is ready to reinsert him back into the lineup.

Stalberg is “likely” to play on Monday, coach Joel Quenneville said, when the Blackhawks will face the Detroit Red Wings in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series. It’s been a trying few days for Stalberg, who was relegated to the white jersey, reserved for those either injured (he was not) or out of the top four lines (he was). But Stalberg, who was back in black and back on the third line with Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell on Sunday, wants to put that all behind him.

“I don’t think I’ll play any different from sitting out. I want to play the same way I have all year,” he said. “If they didn’t think I did that the first round, so be it. At the end of the day, that’s what made us all successful all year, from a personal to a line standpoint. That’s all I’m looking to do now. I’m not looking to change anything. I’ll just use my speed to create something out there.”

As for whether he could’ve made a difference in the Blackhawks’ 4-1 drubbing by Detroit in Game 2, Stalberg doubted it.

“I don’t think yesterday would’ve made much of a difference, whatever lineup you had. We didn’t play well enough,” he said. “We weren’t intense enough or playing hard enough. It’s going to take a better effort for us to have a chance in the series.”

[MORE: Red Wings come out firing, grab Game 2]

The Blackhawks may look to change a few things up for Monday. Michal Handzus and Johnny Oduya didn’t practice on Sunday, but both will play tomorrow night. Whether Handzus centers that second line again or Dave Bolland does it –- he did in Sunday’s practice in Handzus’ absence -– is uncertain. And with Stalberg coming in, someone will have to come out. Daniel Carcillo sported a black jersey on Sunday, but he could be odd-man out tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Stalberg and his third linemates will try and regenerate the chemistry and work that made them a solid trio all season. Quenneville said Stalberg’s speed will be an obvious benefit tomorrow.

“That’s one of his strengths, his quickness and speed,” he said. “He improved his game this year. When we talk about this decision to not play, we had a tough one with Bolley coming back in. But it’s nice to see him with that line, which has been pretty consistent and effective all year. We think we can use his speed.”

Linemate Bickell could sympathize with Stalberg’s frustration. Bickell, who had an up-and-down campaign all last season, was a healthy scratch several times. He said he just told Stalberg to stay positive.

“We didn’t know why he was out. I felt like our line was good and contributed in different ways but the coaches see things differently,” Bickell said. “It’s nice to see him back. Hopefully we can get our line back together and do what we do best.”

Whatever caused the riff and Stalberg’s benching -– both denied stories, via a source, that Stalberg voiced frustration about his lack of power-play time in the first round –- it appears to be over now. The Blackhawks want to get back to winning. Stalberg just wants to get back to playing.

“You keep playing the way I have all year,” he said. “I don’t think I’m going to change too much. You just get back out there and work hard and do as much as you can.”