Stalberg hopeful to keep hot streak against Columbus alive

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Stalberg hopeful to keep hot streak against Columbus alive

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.

Wake-up Call: Big Blackhawks deals on draft day; What to make of the Bulls rebuild?; Buehrle back in town; 'Up and down' Cubs

Wake-up Call: Big Blackhawks deals on draft day; What to make of the Bulls rebuild?; Buehrle back in town; 'Up and down' Cubs

Here are some of the top stories from a busy Friday in Chicago sports:

Saad Day: Blackhawks deal Artemi Panarin for familiar face

Blackhawks pull off stunner, trade Niklas Hjalmarsson to Coyotes

Bulls have emerged from a ball of confusion to parts unknown

Mark Buehrle confirms 'that' rumor from Game 3 of the 2005 World Series

This is the identity of the 2017 Cubs so far: 'Up and down, up and down'

Preview: Mark Buehrle Day on CSN

Preview: Fire get another shot against Orlando Saturday on CSN after recent draw

White Sox offense can't stay hot in loss to A's

Blackhawks trade back, select Henri Jokiharju at No. 29

Together again: Toews, Saad expect chemistry to return quickly

Together again: Toews, Saad expect chemistry to return quickly

Together again: Toews, Saad expect chemistry to return quickly

Brandon Saad talked to plenty of people after he was traded back to the Blackhawks. Some were now ex-teammates from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Others, soon-to-be-teammates again from the Blackhawks.

One of the first people he talked to on Friday? Jonathan Toews.

“He’s someone I talked to shortly after it happened. He’s a guy I’ve always kept in touch with, great friend,” Saad said. “To be reunited, getting that chance to play with him again, he’s an incredible player and his resume speaks for itself. I look forward to trying to rekindle that.”

The two didn’t lose touch the past two years. Now that they’ll be reunited on the ice, they hope they didn’t lose the chemistry either. Saad and Toews formed a great combination a few years ago, a steadiness that’s been missing from the top line, especially at left wing, ever since. With Saad’s return, however, the Blackhawks are looking to get that top line consistent again.

[MORE: Blackhawks trade back, select Henri Jokiharju at No. 29

Toews was at the NHL Draft on Friday night, announcing the Blackhawks’ first-round pick with Patrick Kane. The thought of getting Saad back on his left wing was appealing.

“Well there’s no doubt getting an old teammate, an old friend back, another guy who shared that same bond, friendship and having the experience of winning a Cup together with Saader. I guess there’s some reconciliation because you know what you’re getting,” Toews said. “You know what type of guy he is and how he’s going to fit into the locker room and what he’s going to bring.”

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said via conference call today that, while Toews and Saad had great chemistry the first time around, Saad could fit with others. It all depends on what works best.

“That’s up to Joel [Quenneville] on where he wants to use him,” Bowman said. “No doubt they had tremendous chemistry; he found a home on Jonathan’s left wing. But the one thing I’m trying to stress to everyone, even internally, is we don’t want to look backward and replicate some old formula. He’s had great success with Jonathan and if they go back to that, great.”

Toews and Saad found their niche together pretty quickly the first time around. It’s only been two years since Saad departed, so finding that chemistry again shouldn’t take long at all.

“I don’t think so,” Toews said of chemistry taking long to rekindle. “You play at that caliber you just worry about your own game. Go out there and have fun. be prepared, be ready to roll and it shouldn’t take long for things to happen out there.”