Stalberg set to emerge as power play threat for Blackhawks

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Stalberg set to emerge as power play threat for Blackhawks

Viktor Stalberg kept hoping he would get an opportunity on the Blackhawks power play last season. But despite scoring 22 goals, the most in his young career, Stalberg wasnt really given the chance.

Now it looks like hell get it.

Stalberg, who tallied all of his goals at even strength last season, should be getting some power-play time with the Blackhawks this season. His first chance will come in the Blackhawks lone scrimmage, a simulated game with the Hawks and Rockford players, tomorrow night. That probably wont be the best gauge for seeing how Stalberg could do, but that will come soon enough when the Blackhawks play the Cup champion Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.

For Stalberg, its an opportunity hes long wanted.

Its good if thats the case. Im looking forward to that opportunity, Stalberg said. I looked for it last year but it didnt happen. It was frustrating at times. But if I get the chance, its up to me to make a difference there.

Stalberg got some power-play work while playing in Europe this fallearly winter, first with Frolunda and then in the KHL. In Sweden, especially, he was the net presence. And thats what coach Joel Quenneville sees him doing on the Blackhawks power play.

Viktors working on it, and well get to see that tomorrow, Quenneville said. Hes produced very well for us 5 on 5, and everyone wants a chance on the power play. Hes got a big body, big stick.

This could be a big year for Stalberg. Its already a contract year, and hes coming off a 43-point season during which he moved up and down the lines and was in the Columbus Blue Jackets nightmares he had eight goals and two assists against them last season. For Stalberg, its not about setting a numbers goal. Its about improving all around.

I just want to keep getting better, keep playing more, Stalberg said. I want to be involved in more key situations with the team, whether its (playing) the last few minutes of the game or being on the power play. If you get to do those things, youre numbers are going to improve as well. I just want to keep improving.

That includes on the power play. When he gets on it.

One thing is to get in front of the net and disturb, create traffic and havoc. And deflect pucks better, Stalberg said. Just the little things that keep getting better with experience. Last year was only my second full year, so those things are still improving.

Quenneville said its important for Stalberg to be as strong without the puck as he is with it.

Hes dangerous when he has it. Hes a threat to score off the rush but he opens up space for linemates as well, Quenneville said. Its that awareness, more so without the puck, that needs steady improvement.

Stalberg is currently playing on the Blackhawks third line with Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell. Its a bit of a different role he played there some last season, but not much. Regardless, Stalberg is embracing the opportunity. Be it that one, or that power play.

Whatever role, Ill try to do my best at it. I want to play with the top guys as well, Stalberg said. Lines dont stay the same very long for this team, so you cant be frustrated or anything. Im looking forward to playing with who I am (playing with) right now.

Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook out vs. Rangers

Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook out vs. Rangers

Brent Seabrook is out and Jonathan Toews will miss his eighth consecutive game when the Blackhawks host the New York Rangers on Friday night.

Seabrook suffered an upper-body injury in the second period of the Blackhawks’ 4-0 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night. The defenseman fell awkwardly along the boards and was down for a few moments. Coach Joel Quenneville said Seabrook is day-to-day. Quenneville added he’ll decide tomorrow who takes Seabrook’s place in the lineup.

“Seabs has played really well for us on the back end this year and we’ll definitely miss his contributions,” Quenneville said. “We’re looking for someone to step in.”

Toews is feeling better and could skate on Friday. Quenneville would not rule out the possibility of Toews returning Sunday against the Dallas Stars.

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Duncan Keith did not practice on Thursday but he’s expected to play vs. the Rangers. Scott Darling will start.

Quenneville said Corey Crawford, who had an appendectomy on Saturday, is “status quo.”

Meanwhile, Nick Schmaltz, who was assigned to Rockford over the weekend, scored two goals in the IceHogs’ 3-2 loss to the San Antonio Rampage.

“I talked to Norm (Maciver, Blackhawks assistant general manager) about his game, they were extremely happy with how he played,” Quenneville said of Schmaltz. “He scored twice and there could’ve been more.”

Eric Semborski gets his own hockey card as Blackhawks' emergency goalie

Eric Semborski gets his own hockey card as Blackhawks' emergency goalie

Eric Semborski lived out his childhood dream by calling himself a National Hockey League goaltender for one day, and he will never forget it.

Now there's proof nobody will.

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Topps revealed Wednesday that it has produced a trading card for the 23-year-old after he signed a one-day contract on an amateur tryout basis to serve as the emergency backup goaltender for the Blackhawks in Saturday's contest against the Philadelphia Flyers.

While he didn't see any action, Semborski said after the game that absorbing shots during warmups from some of the best players in the league was “the best 20 minutes of my life.”

Add this to the memory bank of a story that keeps getting better.