Viktor Stalberg is out tonight and Dave Bolland will make his 2013 postseason debut when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Detroit Red Wings in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series tonight at the United Center.
The forward had a good series against the Minnesota Wild as part of the Blackhawks’ successful third line, but practiced outside the top four lines since that series ended. Asked if Stalberg was out tonight because he had violated a team rule, coach Joel Quenneville said, “no. It’s a coach’s decision.” He didn’t elaborate much past that.
“I had a conversation with him,” Quenneville said of Stalberg, who was still on the ice when the locker room closed today. “He knows how it stands and the situation, and we’ll leave it at that.”
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If there was one big change in Stalberg from regular season to playoffs, it’s that he barely played on the power play during the postseason. A source said Stalberg questioned the coaches regarding his lack of time on it against the Wild. Was that enough to cause a Game 1 benching? Stalberg had wanted more power-play time entering this season, and he got it. Unfortunately, he didn’t do much on it; Stalberg had two assists in the more than 103 minutes he played on it during the regular season.
As far as Stalberg’s situation moving forward, Quenneville said he could get back into the lineup again.
“Absolutely. Things change in our business quickly, whether it’s health or decisions based on play,” he said. “We’ll revisit it as we go along.”
Meanwhile, Bolland is back after missing the end of the regular season and the first-round series against Minnesota with a groin injury. Bolland was in his old familiar role of third-line center this morning, between Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw.
“It’s nice to have him back. He brings that intangible,” Quenneville said. “He’s a reliable guy in the middle of the ice, he checks well, plays hard and elevates his game in the playoffs. We’re excited to have him back as well.”