BOSTON – Viktor Stalberg is getting a second chance. It’s unlikely that he’ll receive a third one.
The Blackhawks’ speedy but streaky forward made his Stanley Cup Final debut Monday after watching the first two games as a healthy scratch. Stalberg failed to respond to his first two-game benching during the second round against the Detroit Red Wings.
“I think we need some speed from him,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville told reporters after the morning skate. “I think we need energy.”
Some production on offense wouldn’t hurt, either.
After scoring nine goals with 14 assists in 47 regular-season games, Stalberg entered Monday with no goals and three assists in 15 playoff games. His playing time dropped as he struggled, and he averaged only 1.4 shots per game.
The Hawks routinely have preached the importance of playing to one’s strengths. In Stalberg’s case, that means relying on his terrific speed to generate scoring chances.
“Using it the right way, he’s a threat, gives us some speed on all lines,” Quenneville said. “It gives him something at least to contend with.”
Stalberg’s turbulent postseason could wind up costing him millions. The 27-year-old forward is due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, but the Hawks and other teams might hesitate to guarantee big money to a player who struggled so badly in the playoffs that he was removed twice from the lineup.
Nothing personal: Brandon Bollig returned to his longtime role as a healthy scratch after playing the first two games of the series.
Bollig registered three shots on goal and posted a minus-1 rating while averaging more than 11 minutes of ice time in the series. But he failed to clear the puck out of the Hawks’ zone in Game 2, which led to the Bruins’ game-winning goal.
Quenneville defended Bollig’s performance but said it was Stalberg’s turn to play.
“I think Bollig gave us a couple real strong games,” Quenneville said. “You can talk about the last play [in Game 2].
“Certainly, you like the predictability of his game. I thought he did a nice job.”
Hit parade: By the time the playoffs are finished, Bryan Bickell might end up leading the Hawks in hits as well as goals.
Bickell entered Game 3 with 68 hits, which edged out Brent Seabrook (66) for the most on the team. Andrew Shaw was third on the Hawks with 62 hits.
A steep drop exists until the next trio of Hawks’ hitters, which includes Patrick Sharp (39), Michal Rozsival (37) and Michal Handzus (35).