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.

Blackhawks assistant Kevin Dineen appreciates interview opportunities

Blackhawks assistant Kevin Dineen appreciates interview opportunities

Kevin Dineen is back with the Blackhawks but there were times this summer you wondered if another team would take him away.

The Blackhawks’ assistant coach was a major candidate for the Colorado Avalanche head coaching job, according to the Denver Post, following Patrick Roy’s surprising departure. There were probably other inquiries, too.

“It’s always nice to go through a process of talking about the way you do your business. It’s also a reflection of where you are,” said Dineen following the Blackhawks’ White-Red scrimmage on Saturday. “No. 1, you have to get permission to do that, and the Blackhawks have been great about giving me the opportunity to go out and do that. But also, when you have success, a lot of people want to get your feedback or whatever it is.”

Dineen’s name will likely come up whenever there’s a coaching vacancy. He coached the Florida Panthers from 2011-13 and coached Team Canada women’s team to a gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Dineen will get another opportunity in the NHL but for now, life is good in Chicago.

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“For me, I couldn’t be happier right here,” he said. “I have a great person and hockey mind to work with in Joel [Quenneville]. But you know, down the line, those things play their way out and we’ll see where it goes.”

Arriving soon

Patrick Kane, Ville Pokka and Michal Kempny will join the Blackhawks’ training camp on Tuesday. The three finished up round-robin World Cup of Hockey play with their respective teams on Thursday.

Dineen said there’s a chance one of the defensemen, Pokka or Kempny, play in Wednesday night’s preseason game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“They’ll get into the swing of things here on Tuesday,” Dineen said. “So that’ll give them a good rest after a long, tough September, and we expect them to hit the ice flying.”

Briefly

  • Duncan Keith will skate during one of the Blackhawks’ practices on Sunday and Monday.
     
  • Team White defeated Team Red 4-3 in Saturday’s scrimmage at the United Center. Spencer Abbott led Team White with two goals.

Alexandre Fortin taking advantage of Blackhawks tryout

Alexandre Fortin taking advantage of Blackhawks tryout

For Alexandre Fortin, the last few months have certainly been memorable.

It all started earlier this summer, when Blackhawks scout Alexandre Rouleau contacted Fortin’s agent: Fortin was invited to the team’s prospect camp. He did so well there that he was invited to the rookie tournament in Traverse City, Mich., last week. And now, the 19-year-old is here on a training-camp tryout.

Yeah, it was quite a summer. And now Fortin would like to turn it into just as memorable of an autumn.

Fortin assisted on a goal in Saturday’s scrimmage, part of the Blackhawks’ training camp festival at the United Center. The Blackhawks are going to be keeping an eye on Fortin, who’s been impressive since that July prospect camp.

“I like his willingness to learn. Those same things you talk about, immediately it translates right into the next shift,” Blackhawks assistant coach Kevin Dineen said. “He’s a smart, cerebral kid who has a nice offensive skillset he’s been able to show early. He’s off to a really good start and trying to find a way into one of our exhibition games.”

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Fortin had 19 goals in 54 games last season with Rouyn-Noranda of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Just to get a chance with the Blackhawks is motivation enough, although Fortin already had plenty. The Quebec native was passed over in two NHL drafts, much like former Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw.

“I had two years where I didn’t get drafted, and it’s always hard mentally. But some guys never get drafted and have a good hockey career,” Fortin said. “I worked a lot in the summer just to be ready to try and do the same thing I did in prospect camp.”

Fortin also got some advice from family; his uncle is former NHL goaltender Jean-Sébastien Giguère, who won a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.

“For sure, I had a couple of meetings with him just before I came here. He had a great career. He helped me on that. I can call him every time, ask him questions,” Fortin said. “It’s good to see the veteran guys. You have to use them as an example. It’s what I want to do. I have to learn how to be a pro.”

Fortin doesn’t know what the future holds but he’s getting a chance with the Blackhawks, something he didn’t foresee when the summer began. And with that chance, anything can happen.

“You have to stay focused on your goal,” Fortin said. “You know my life has changed a few times just with what I’ve done here. We’ll see after, but I’ll keep doing what I’m doing now.”