COLUMBUS, Ohio Viktor Stalberg is attracted to the Columbus Blue Jackets goal like a bull is to a red cape.
The Blackhawks forward just has a penchant for scoring against Columbus, be it here or in Chicago. Of the 43 points he tallied last season, 10 (eight goals, two assists) came in six games against the Blue Jackets. He was a plus-11 in those six games, too.
Its more of a fluke than anything. You just get a little more confidence against certain teams and certain goalies, Stalberg said Saturday morning. But they have a lot of new players this year so Im sure it wont be the same. But Ill look to continue scoring and stay on this good start.
Columbus or not, Stalberg is off to a solid start this season with two goals in the Blackhawks first four games. Stalberg is looking to build off last years numbers of 22 goals and 21 assists. And with Columbus, theres always a chance it could be a multi-point night.
Thats a fluky stat. With some guys, its whether theyre charmed or lucky against certain opponents. The pucks go in for him (against Columbus), coach Joel Quenneville said. Hes quick off the rush and has a dangerous and sneaky shot. Hes gotten power-play time based on how he performed the last couple of years.
Stalberg has been on the Blackhawks power play through the first four games after seeing very, very little time there last season. His first two goals this season were also 5 on 5, but Stalberg said is adjusting to his new man-advantage role.
Its a learning curve to be in front, knowing where to line up and find that shooting lane, Stalberg said. But Ive been trying to do my job and not rush plays too much. If I get it, Ill just be poised with it and try to get to loose pucks.
Quenneville said Stalbergs done well on the power play, as well as on the more defensive-minded third line.
That lines been effective; they all bring something different, Quenneville said of Stalberg, Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw. Viktors got good speed, and theyve had a lot of offensive zone shifts as well. Hes learning the position and mentality of being front-net guy on the power play. Its a work in progress but so far, so good.
Stalberg will approach Columbus tonight like he does any other team. If he keeps getting goals against them, so be it.
Well see what happens; its a new season, he said. I had a couple good games against them last year and hopefully itll continue.