Blackhawks

No longer snake bit? Stalberg scores a pair

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No longer snake bit? Stalberg scores a pair

Friday, Sept. 23, 2011
Posted: 9:24 p.m. Updated: 10:28 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com Blackhawks InsiderFollow @TraMyersCSN
Box score Photo gallery
VIDEO: Stalberg feels he'll score a lot of goals
VIDEO: Saad working hard to impress
VIDEO: Coach Q thrilled with Saad, Stalberg
VIDEO: Keith sees big difference from last year

Viktor Stalberg has had his snakebit past.

The Blackhawks forward has always had the speed and the potential to be a consistent goal scorer. But he had his struggles last season, and shots that deflected off teammates and off posts and crossbars didn't help.

But Stalberg's determined to get consistent on offense this season. On Friday, he certainly took a step toward that.

Stalberg scored two goals, both in the third period, as the Blackhawks came back to beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 in their home preseason opener. For Stalberg, Friday's outing was a reward for his work. He was getting good scoring chances and was able to capitalize in the third period.

"I'm getting more quality chances out there. When you get those you'll score eventually," said Stalberg, who made a strong third-period combination with Jonathan Toews and rookie Brandon Saad. "I think I'm more prepared this year, more calm in my game."

That calm, Stalberg said, comes with his new security. Stalberg signed a two-year deal this past summer and said he feels more comfortable knowing he'll be here a while.

""The contract gives you more breathing room," he said. "You don't have the pressure every single time you step on the ice. That's nice."

True, but it hasn't made Stalberg complacent. He's using his speed to help create opportunities, be it open space or shots. So far, it's working.

"Whether it's more patience, confidence in the scoring area or knowing his speed could be effective and he can beat people wide, his overall game's improved," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We always notice his speed and energy. He's looking for more responsibility, looking at our lineup and playing with different guys. He's had a real positive start to the season."

Now it has to translate into the regular season.

"If I keep creating those they'll go in eventually," he said. "I have to keep creating chances. I might not get the highest shooting percentage in the league, but if I keep getting those shots, those chances, I'll get my goals."

Saad story

Rookie Brandon Saad's legend continues, as he scored his first goal on Friday. Oh, and it was the game-winner, too. And his continued impressive play has earned Saad another game, against Detroit on Sunday.

So could the 18-year-old make this Blackhawks team?

"I don't know. If he keeps doing that every day we'll probably be talking about him the next day," Quenneville said. "It's not something we envisioned, but every training camp there's someone who gets your attention and captures it, makes you look at the case differently. He's done that."

Fight me
Jamal Mayers came to the defense of his teammate by fighting Washington defenseman Danny Richmond. (US PRESSWIRE)
Danny Richmond was ready to pick a fight with youngster Saad after Saad hit Alex Ovechkin in the second period. Saad wasn't biting. But Jamal Mayers hit the ice soon after, and was willing to go. Mayers made quick work of Richmond, much to the delight of the United Center crowd.

"Jammer's a great character guy," said Stalberg, who also played with Mayers in Toronto. "He works hard and he's a great guy in the locker room. We're fortunate to have him on our squad."

Briefly

Crawford was strong in his preseason debut, stopping 24 of 26 shots. "He was excellent," Quenneville said. "They had a lot of traffic at the net, (Ovechkin) was dangerous and (Corey) had a great save at the end. He was very good, very sharp and we needed him to be."

The Blackhawks assigned 11 players to the Rockford IceHogs on Friday afternoon: forwards Brandon Bollig, Chris DiDomenico, Byron Froese, David Gilbert, Andrew Shaw, David Toews and Paul Zanette as well as defensemen Simon Danis-Pepin, Shawn Lalonde, Ryan Stanton and Ben Youds.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 3-2 loss to Blue Jackets: Looking at the bigger picture

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 3-2 loss to Blue Jackets: Looking at the bigger picture

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Saturday night:

1. Blackhawks squander two leads.

For the 13th time in their past 16 games, the Blackhawks scored the first goal of the game. They had won their previous three instances when doing so, but couldn't seal the deal this time and fell to 5-6-2 in those 13 games.

What strung even more is that the Blackhawks held two one-goal leads and couldn't hang on to either of them. They have the seventh-worst win percentage (.571) when scoring the first goal this season with a 20-10-5 record.

2. Vinnie Hinostroza continues to produce offensively.

If you're trying to look for a rare bright spot on the Blackhawks roster this season, here's one. Hinostroza registered a secondary assist on David Kampf's goal for his fifth point in six games, and was on the ice for 16 shot attempts for and seven against during 5-on-5 play for a team-leading shot attempt differential of plus-9 (also known as Corsi).

For the season, Hinostroza has 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in 32 games and he's doing so while averaging only 13:27 of ice time. His point-per-game average is up to 0.63, which is tied with Jonathan Toews for third on the team; only Patrick Kane (0.92) and Nick Schmaltz (0.71) are producing at a higher rate.

Hinostroza deserves more minutes, but at the same time his ability to produce on any of the four lines has allowed Joel Quenneville to put him in a bottom six role for balance.

"I like his speed," Quenneville said recently on why Hinostroza has been so effective. "I think with the puck, he's been good with it as well. More strength, on it, managing it, better decisions with it, and good plays off it. He definitely brings you energy and some speed, he can catch people with that quickness."

3. Ryan Hartman's benching.

Hartman was part of the fourth line that contributed to the Blackhawks' first goal of the game, and he was on his way to having a strong one. But that changed quickly after he took an ill-advised penalty in the first period.

Already leading 1-0, the Blackhawks had a 2-on-1 opportunity developing involving Hinostroza and David Kampf but Hartman was whistled for high-sticking at 17:06 behind the play. The Blue Jackets converted on the power play, and that was the end of Hartman's night.

He took only five shifts and finished with a season-low 4:16 of ice time, with Quenneville using it as an opportunity for a teaching moment.

4. Tomas Jurco building confidence back up.

It's been a tough season mentally for Jurco. He started the season with the AHL's Rockford IceHogs after failing to make the team out of camp, and compiled 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists) in 36 games. 

It earned him a call-up on Jan. 8, with Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman praising the way he progressed: "He looks like he's totally different, in terms of his composure and ability to make plays. That's why we brought him up here."

The problem? He was a healthy scratch for five straight games and went two weeks without seeing game action with the Blackhawks. Not exactly the best way to keep someone's confidence building. And since then, he's been fighting for a spot in the lineup.

For the last three games, Jurco has been given a shot on the second line with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane and he cashed in for his first goal of the season tonight and first since March 27, 2017. It's also the second straight game he's recorded a point.

While he may not be worth much if the Blackhawks were to deal him ahead of Monday's deadline, perhaps a change of scenery to a team that believes in him as a fit will bring out the best of his abilities. The Blackhawks tried and it just hasn't worked out.

5. Blue line observation.

This is more of a big-picture takeaway, but the Blackhawks have gotten only 20 goals from their defensemen this season. The Blue Jackets have gotten a combined 19 from just Seth Jones and Zach Werenski. Last season the Blackhawks had 30 total.

The Blackhawks just haven't gotten the offensive production needed from their back end and it's so important as it helps alleviate some of the pressure off the forwards.

I asked Quenneville about this after Friday's game and here's what he had to say: "Whether you score or not, you need the D to be part of your attack, be it off the rush, in zone. But I think the whole game, the whole league is four-man rush game, five-man attacks, coming at you, night-in, night-out, wave after wave.

"But you need to get your D involved in your support on the attack and you need them on the offensive zone off the point. You need some shooters on the back end that can get them through as well. I think offensive production from the back end in today’s game really enhances your offense and your possession game."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. One big reunion.

The Blackhawks will square off with the Blue Jackets for the first time since Oct. 7, which was the second game of the season. In that game, they won 5-1 led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, each of whom scored a goal and added an assist.

Of course, that was the first game since the offseason trade that sent Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Saad back to Chicago, along with Anton Forsberg. Artem Anisimov, of course, was part of the original deal that sent Saad to Columbus in 2015, so there are a lot of emotional ties between the two teams.

Forsberg didn't get a chance to face the Blue Jackets in the first meeting, but there's a chance he will this time with it being the second of a back-to-back and Jean-Francois Berube getting the start in Friday's 3-1 win over San Jose.

2. Panarin and Kane bromance.

The emotions of a difficult break-up have probably died down by now, but Panarin and Kane gave us this moment at center ice during pregame warmups in their first game against each other and it hit Chicago right in the feels:

Panarin has spent enough time apart from Kane for people to realize how big of a star he is in his own right, leading the Blue Jackets in all three scoring categories: goals (17), assists (32) and points (49).

He hasn't gone more than three games this season without recording a point, and is looking to extend his point streak to four games, which would tie a season high.

3. Struggling Blue Jackets special teams.

The Blue Jackets got off to a great start but are barely clinging onto a wild card spot going into Saturday's game, and a big reason for that slide is their lack of success on special teams. Usually one can pick up the slack for the other, but they've been brutal in both departments.

The Blue Jackets are 0-for-9 on the power play in their past five games and are ranked 31st overall, converting on only 14.1 percent of their opportunities. They also have own the 27th-ranked penalty kill with a 76.3 percent success rate.

So if there's an area the Blackhawks can exploit, it's that. But, you know, still be mindful of that Russian winger's one-timer from the faceoff circle.