Bulls

Blackhawks breakdown: Viktor Stalberg

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Blackhawks breakdown: Viktor Stalberg

CSNChicago.com Blackhawks Insider Tracey Myers and PGL host Chris Boden will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the Hawks roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in numerical order.

Viktor Stalberg enjoyed the best season of his short career. He played in 79 games, averaging just under 15 minutes of ice time per game. He scored a career-high 22 goals with a career-best 21 assists for 43 points -- none in very limited time on the power play -- and finished plus-6 with 91 hits. Stalberg struggled mightily in the playoffs, however, behind held without a goal and just two assists in six games vs. Phoenix. He finished even in the series, but was also penalized four times for eight minutes in Game 5 alone.

Boden's take: The 26-year-old made the kind of statistical jump you'd hope to see in his second full NHL season, for a guy with his skillset: a 10-goal improvement, to go along with a 19-point improvement. He did all that with zero power-play production due to getting very little playing time on that unit.

He has world class speed and uses the open ice to make himself dangerous to opponents. The hands are still a work in progress. They've improved, but since that open-ice skill isn't necessary on the power play, Joel Quenneville probably wants him to take another step there. How many times over the past two seasons have we seen Stalberg race in on a breakaway, but unable to finish? Stalberg even volunteered after the season to be the "net-front presence" the team so sorely needs on the power play. At 6-3, he has the size, but are the hands there? And would the subsequent banging affect the rest of his game?

Myers' take: The Swedish forward set career-high numbers in goals, assists and points. What's more, all of that came at even strength, as the Blackhawks, for some reason, just didn't try Stalberg on the power play that much. His biggest attribute, his speed, served him well; and the Blackhawks kept him among the top lines through most of the season. But it's also what Stalberg learned that made him more valuable this season. A few stints with the checking line helped Stalberg get better at puck possession; although when he had a gaffe there, it was noticeable and, too often, turned into an opposition scoring chance. Still, there is a tremendous upswing with Stalberg as he goes forward.

2012-13 Expectations

Boden: It'll be interesting to see if he reports to camp with a little more "dangle" to his game. He's been gifted with a gear that very few NHL players possess. Now it's about the next step to polish his game offensively, plus he must continue to increase his commitment and awareness on the defensive end. He's one of the players who needs to utilize starts and stops more than fly-bys. I wouldn't use him in front of the goalie on the power play. If he takes another step up in his game, he'll get a payday, as he'll be an unrestricted free agent one year from now.

Finally, is Stalberg a "Top Six" forward to join Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp? If Dave Bolland, Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell remain a trio, who goes Top-6 and who is fourth line? Daniel Carcillo, Jimmy Hayes, Brandon Saad or Michael Frolik? There's a matter of size, protection and skill to consider in those top two lines, as well. That's if we see many, or all, of the same faces come back.

Myers: OK, just about every other player -- or so it seemed -- got a shot at the power play last season. And Stalberg should be given one this coming season. As the offseason began Stalberg said he'd be willing to do whatever it took to get some special-teams time. He's a big body and could be that net presence the Blackhawks desperately want and need. Otherwise, if Stalberg keeps progressing off last year's numbers, he'll be a steady top-six player for the Blackhawks.

How do you feel about this evaluation? As always, be sure to chime in with your thoughts by commenting below and check out the video breakdown of Stalberg's season above.

Up next: Johnny Oduya

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Coby White was on fire in win over Knicks

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USA TODAY

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Coby White was on fire in win over Knicks

On this edition of the Bulls Outsiders podcast, Matt Peck, John Sabine, and Dave Watson react to Coby White’s record-breaking game and the Bulls win over the Knicks

0:45 - On Coby White’s unreal 4th quarter

4:45 - On Bulls fans chanting Coby’s name at the end of the game

6:00 - On Wendell Carter Jr. and another double-double

8:20 - Should Coby White be starting?

12:30 - Viewer comment on Hutchison’s role when Otto Porter returns

16:20 - If you could only choose one duo to keep: Zach/Lauri or Coby/Wendell?

19:20 - Viewer comment on a Otto Porter for D’Angelo Russell trade idea

22:00 - Viewer comment on Kris Dunn’s game

24:25 - Who should John Sabine’s new best friend be?

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

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Coby White helps power Bulls past Knicks with scoring barrage for the ages

Coby White helps power Bulls past Knicks with scoring barrage for the ages

When North Carolina coach Roy Williams talked to Coby White pregame Tuesday, he sensed his former player was a bit down.

“I just told him to relax,” Williams said. “How many years is a talent like that going to play? A decade? Ten games doesn’t define him.”

White’s 11th NBA game, however, will live forever in his and Williams’ hearts.

White authored a shooting performance for the ages, sinking seven 3-pointers in the fourth quarter of the Bulls’ much-needed 120-102 victory over the Knicks and scoring 23 of his game-high 27 points in the final period.

The Bulls and Knicks entered the fourth quarter tied. White became the youngest player in NBA history to make seven 3-pointers, set a franchise record for 3-pointers in a quarter and tied the franchise mark for 3-pointers in a half. He fell two 3-pointers shy of Klay Thompson’s NBA record for 3-pointers in a quarter.

And Williams, who joined the standing ovation and chants of “Coby! Coby!” that boomed throughout the United Center, soaked it all in.

“It was a blessing to have him come all the way out here during his season. That explains the type of relationship you have when you go to North Carolina,” White said. “Our relationship goes beyond basketball. I love him.”

A touching moment played out on the game broadcast as Williams crashed White’s postgame on-court interview to hug him. Asked by NBC Sports Chicago’s Leila Rahimi what he would say to Williams, White smiled.

“Coach, can you come to more games?” the rookie said.

Alas, Williams can’t. He’s a little busy coaching North Carolina.

But perhaps White’s magic can carry over and help extract him from a slump that produced 3-for-26 shooting from 3-point range over his previous five games. White sank 7 of 11 from beyond the arc overall against the Knicks, scoring 18 points in the game-changing 22-0 run. At one point, White sank three 3-pointers in 54 seconds.

“I told him, ‘I’ve had 20-point quarters and I’ve seen duels with big players. I’ve never seen somebody hit seven 3s in a quarter,’” Zach LaVine said. “I’ve been telling you guys from the get-go. Coby is special. He can score the ball. He got hot. I don’t know how many he had going into the 4th. But it seemed like he had 30 in the fourth. That was as impressive as any of the (fourth quarters) I’ve ever seen.”

This is the second time this season White has taken over a fourth quarter. He scored 11 fourth-quarter points in the road victory over Memphis.

“I thought the beauty in Coby’s game was he let it come to him,” coach Jim Boylen said. “But we found him and we honored what he was doing by keep feeding him. That group did a helluva job.”

Indeed, Ryan Arcidiacono finished with eight assists and one turnover and Kris Dunn posted 13 points with three steals as the oft maligned three-guard lineup came through. White’s performance just screamed the loudest.

“He’s a gamer and he’s a worker,” Boylen said. “It bothers him when he doesn’t play as well as he thinks he could play. He cares.”

That’s evident in White’s off-day routine, which hasn’t changed whether he’s playing well or not.

“Just stick to my craft and what got me here, which is working hard and getting up reps in the gym,” White said. “I know to shoot your way out of a slump, you gotta shoot the ball and stay confident. If you’re not confident, you’re never going to hit shots. I just try to stick to my plan. Get in the gym, get up extra shots and stay level-headed and confident.”

White said Williams told him “to be Coby and use a little more legs on my shot.” And as for where this scoring barrage ranked for the most prolific scorer in North Carolina high school history?

“That’s No. 1,” White said.