CHICAGO – The Swede has been freed.
At least, that appears to be the case.
After a two-game absence, Blackhawks forward Viktor Stalberg rejoined the third line during practice Sunday and is “likely playing” in Game 3 against Detroit, coach Joel Quenneville said.
Stalberg practiced alongside old linemates Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell, while Dave Bolland anchored the second line between Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane. It’s unclear who will sit out once Stalberg returns, although Michal Handzus and Daniel Carcillo are top candidates.
Quenneville said Stalberg’s speed could be a factor against the Wings.
“We had a tough decision with [Bolland] coming back in,” Quenneville said in explaining Stalberg’s benching. “But it’s nice to see him back in there with the option on that line, [which] has been fairly consistent and pretty effective for most of the year. I think we can use his speed.”
Stalberg said he had not heard for sure whether he would be playing but vowed to be ready.
“We’ll see what happens,” he said. “But if I get a chance to play, I’ll try to do anything I can to make a difference and help us win these games.”
Getting close: Hawks forward Brandon Saad has yet to score a goal in seven playoff games this season, but the NHL rookie-of-the-year candidate said he felt close to finding the score sheet.
Saad led the Hawks with five shots Saturday while playing on the team’s top line.
“I feel like the last two games, especially, I’ve had a lot of chances,” Saad said. “Hopefully, we get one here coming up.”
For the record: Although Quenneville is prone to shake up his lineup after bitter losses, no reason exists to believe that he will replace Corey Crawford with Ray Emery in net anytime soon.
Quenneville made that point clear when asked whether Emery might play in the near future. Crawford has been stellar with a 5-2 record and a 1.64 goals-against average in the playoffs.
“We’re fine with Corey right now,” Quenneville said. “I love the way he’s played.
“He’s played very strong for us all year – excellent first round and a real good start to this series.”