No longer snake bit? Stalberg scores a pair

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No longer snake bit? Stalberg scores a pair

Friday, Sept. 23, 2011
Posted: 9:24 p.m. Updated: 10:28 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com Blackhawks InsiderFollow @TraMyersCSN
Box score Photo gallery
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Viktor Stalberg has had his snakebit past.

The Blackhawks forward has always had the speed and the potential to be a consistent goal scorer. But he had his struggles last season, and shots that deflected off teammates and off posts and crossbars didn't help.

But Stalberg's determined to get consistent on offense this season. On Friday, he certainly took a step toward that.

Stalberg scored two goals, both in the third period, as the Blackhawks came back to beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 in their home preseason opener. For Stalberg, Friday's outing was a reward for his work. He was getting good scoring chances and was able to capitalize in the third period.

"I'm getting more quality chances out there. When you get those you'll score eventually," said Stalberg, who made a strong third-period combination with Jonathan Toews and rookie Brandon Saad. "I think I'm more prepared this year, more calm in my game."

That calm, Stalberg said, comes with his new security. Stalberg signed a two-year deal this past summer and said he feels more comfortable knowing he'll be here a while.

""The contract gives you more breathing room," he said. "You don't have the pressure every single time you step on the ice. That's nice."

True, but it hasn't made Stalberg complacent. He's using his speed to help create opportunities, be it open space or shots. So far, it's working.

"Whether it's more patience, confidence in the scoring area or knowing his speed could be effective and he can beat people wide, his overall game's improved," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We always notice his speed and energy. He's looking for more responsibility, looking at our lineup and playing with different guys. He's had a real positive start to the season."

Now it has to translate into the regular season.

"If I keep creating those they'll go in eventually," he said. "I have to keep creating chances. I might not get the highest shooting percentage in the league, but if I keep getting those shots, those chances, I'll get my goals."

Saad story

Rookie Brandon Saad's legend continues, as he scored his first goal on Friday. Oh, and it was the game-winner, too. And his continued impressive play has earned Saad another game, against Detroit on Sunday.

So could the 18-year-old make this Blackhawks team?

"I don't know. If he keeps doing that every day we'll probably be talking about him the next day," Quenneville said. "It's not something we envisioned, but every training camp there's someone who gets your attention and captures it, makes you look at the case differently. He's done that."

Fight me
Jamal Mayers came to the defense of his teammate by fighting Washington defenseman Danny Richmond. (US PRESSWIRE)
Danny Richmond was ready to pick a fight with youngster Saad after Saad hit Alex Ovechkin in the second period. Saad wasn't biting. But Jamal Mayers hit the ice soon after, and was willing to go. Mayers made quick work of Richmond, much to the delight of the United Center crowd.

"Jammer's a great character guy," said Stalberg, who also played with Mayers in Toronto. "He works hard and he's a great guy in the locker room. We're fortunate to have him on our squad."

Briefly

Crawford was strong in his preseason debut, stopping 24 of 26 shots. "He was excellent," Quenneville said. "They had a lot of traffic at the net, (Ovechkin) was dangerous and (Corey) had a great save at the end. He was very good, very sharp and we needed him to be."

The Blackhawks assigned 11 players to the Rockford IceHogs on Friday afternoon: forwards Brandon Bollig, Chris DiDomenico, Byron Froese, David Gilbert, Andrew Shaw, David Toews and Paul Zanette as well as defensemen Simon Danis-Pepin, Shawn Lalonde, Ryan Stanton and Ben Youds.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Marian Hossa named Blackhawks' nominee for 2017 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

Marian Hossa named Blackhawks' nominee for 2017 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

The Chicago chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association has selected Marian Hossa to be the Blackhawks' nominee for the 2017 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which recognizes perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

The 38-year-old winger has bounced back in a huge way following a 2015-16 campaign where he had only 13 goals and 20 assists in 64 games. 

Hossa is tied for second on the team with 24 goals and ranks sixth on the club with 42 points in 66 contests this season. He ranks fourth among active players with 1,131 points, and recently surpassed Pat Verbeek to move into 35th all-time in goals scored with 523.

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Three finalists from the 30 NHL teams will be named at the end of the regular season.

Pit Martin (1969-70) and Bryan Berard (2003-04) are the only two players in Blackhawks history to win the honor.

Johnny Oduya feeling better, more up to speed with Blackhawks

Johnny Oduya feeling better, more up to speed with Blackhawks

Perhaps the best thing about the Johnny Oduya trade back to the Blackhawks, for both parties involved, was that Oduya wasn't needed immediately.

It's not that the Blackhawks didn't want the veteran defenseman, who helped them win Cups in 2013 and 2015, back in the lineup as soon as possible. Oduya was coming off an ankle injury, one he re-aggravated and missed about a month when he was with the Dallas Stars. He needed time to fully heal and with the Blackhawks in good shape in the standings and with solid depth at defense, he could.

Now with the playoffs right around the corner, Oduya is feeling more like himself.

Outside of missing two games that were the second halves of back-to-backs, Oduya has been playing steadily since March 9. Oduya's minutes have ranged from around 16 to 21 in games. He said he's now 100 percent healthy from his injury and he's feeling the difference on the ice.

"It makes a big difference," Oduya said on Thursday, prior to facing the Stars for the first time since his trade back to Chicago. "I mean, obviously sometimes you get more or less lucky, depending on what you get and the style of play and what you do or not. Skating is a part of my game I try to use as much as possible to get in good position and try to take away time from the opposition as much as possible.

"Even with battling and things like that, of course it's nice to feel more confident," Oduya added. "In any situation, you're in you want to feel confident on the ice."

The Blackhawks have seen that confidence in previous postseason runs and are looking to see it again in Oduya. Coach Joel Quenneville considers Oduya, "Mr. Reliability."

"You look back at what he delivered for us, not just the regular season, but he's been solid and reliable in the playoffs. He's assumed some important matchups and important minutes," Quenneville said. "Last year, we didn't have him on the back end and watching him this year, it was the perfect fit him coming back."

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The Blackhawks' defensive group hasn't changed much since Oduya's first stint here. The system probably hasn't been altered much, either. Still, Oduya's not taking anything for granted and is trying to get back on the same page quickly.

"Same as the last time I came into a great hockey team and I really just want to get up to speed and up to date as quickly as possible," Oduya said. "Little things that may have changed. I want to fit in as well as I can. That's the idea anyone has coming in late in the year. The guys here make it pretty easy; the coaching staff is familiar with the way I play and helps speed up things a little more."

The Blackhawks are trying to be their best heading into the postseason. So is Oduya. He needed a little extra time to get back to health and he may still need a little time to get back to speed, but he's just about there. 

"I feel pretty good. Of course it's a lot easier when you have guys around you you've seen before, a coaching staff," Oduya said. "It's a work in progress, anyway. I want to be better, I want to evolve with the team and want us to be better, too. It's a work in progress."