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.

Four takeaways: 'Vintage' Corey Crawford steals two points for Blackhawks

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AP

Four takeaways: 'Vintage' Corey Crawford steals two points for Blackhawks

COLUMBUS — Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Saturday:

1. Corey Crawford steals the show

The Blackhawks had no business winning this game. They were being outshot 28-15 through two periods, committed four penalties and gave up 18 high-danger chances in the game. 

But Crawford bailed out his team like he often has done in the past, and was zoned in from the moment the puck dropped. He finished with 37 saves on 38 shots for a save percentage of .974, picking up his first win since Dec. 17, 2017.

"Yeah, I felt good," Crawford said. "I think everyone was playing hard, rebounds, taking away sticks. That was a great effort by everyone."

"He was standing on his head for us," Patrick Kane said. "As Q would say, that’s a goalie win for us."

Said coach Joel Quenneville: "That was vintage Crow."

2. Tic-tac-toe leads to go-ahead goal

The Blue Jackets were clearly the better team through two periods. The Blackhawks were fortunate to go into second intermission with the game still tied at 1-1.

The next goal was crucial, and they got it thanks to a give-and-go play by Brent Seabrook and Kane, who buried home a wide open net to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead with 4:14 left in regulation.

Was Kane expecting Seabrook to pass it back?

"No. Not a chance," Kane said laughing. "That’s his wheelhouse, coming right down there. He scores a lot of goals from that area. Saw it was like a 2-on-2, he was coming late, he jumped in the play on the first goal, did a great job, jumped in the play on that goal. Made a great pass. When I saw it come back, I just tried to stay patient, settle it down and make sure I hit the net, because I knew I had the whole open net."

3. Busy night for PK

The Blackhawks penalty kill was very busy. It was also on it's A-game, partly because their best penalty killer was Crawford.

The Blackhawks spent 6:31 of the first 40 minutes killing penalties, allowing 11 shots total on it. But most importantly, they killed off all four penalties.

"We had some tough clears, but I thought we did some good things," Quenneville said. "We withstood some extended PK zone time there and found a way to keep us in the game. Obviously that next goal was huge and that second period was a big part of them having so much zone time, keeping us in our end. We'll say, hey good job, but Crow was the best penalty killer tonight."

4. Catching up with Kane on Artemi Panarin

Kane and Panarin spent only two seasons together, but they brought Blackhawks fans out of their seats on a nightly basis and it was amazing to watch the instant on-ice chemistry they shared. And most of it was non-verbal, which made it even more impressive. They were always on the same wavelength.

"Sometimes it takes time to build some chemistry but that was one of those things where it was like, I don't want to say instant chemistry, but after one or two preseason games we kind of new that maybe something special was going to happen," Kane told NBC Sports Chicago. "I think he scored in his first game in the NHL, we had a really good game, we had the puck a lot, we sensed that this could be a fun way to play hockey."

Off the ice, Kane said Panarin would use Google translate on his phone to communicate while Kane would try using a Russian accent while saying English words.

The two of them got a chance to hang out for a little bit on Friday and Kane still keeps tabs on his former linemate.

"I always really enjoy watching him," Kane said. "If we have an off night or something, he's a really fun player to watch."

Blackhawks and Blue Jackets both going through own challenges of Artemi Panarin and Brandon Saad trade

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks and Blue Jackets both going through own challenges of Artemi Panarin and Brandon Saad trade

COLUMBUS — The Blackhawks and Blue Jackets blockbuster trade from the 2017 offseason is always a hot topic in Chicago when things aren't going great. It especially is when the two teams square off against each other, like Saturday at Nationwide Arena for the first time this season.

If it wasn't already apparent in Chicago, Artemi Panarin has emerged as a real NHL superstar and is set for a giant payday when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2019. He set a Blue Jackets record with 82 points in a single season and has nine points (three goals, six assists) through six games this season.

Brandon Saad, on the other hand, had a challenging first year back with the Blackhawks in 2017-18 after netting only 35 points in 82 games and is off to a slow start this year as well with zero goals and two assists through six games. After a demotion to the fourth line, he was close to being a healthy scratch on Thursday, which only magnifies where things are at as the two get ready to clash.

But Saad was never going to be able to replace Panarin's offensive production. Everybody knows that. Yet, the offensive comparisons will always be there as a barometer and that's something Saad doesn't think about, no matter how much fans talk about it.

"I don't think I do it," he said. "We're different players. He's a great player. Fans are going to do whatever comparisons they want, but at the end of the day you've got to be true to yourself and do what you bring to the table. He's a great player around the league. You can see his highlights and his goals, he's definitely a special player. But at the end of the day I've got confidence in my abilities too. We both bring different attributes, but they're going to make comparisons regardless."

A big reason why the Blackhawks reacquired Saad, other than his ability to play a 200-foot game, is because he carries a $6 million cap hit through 2020-21, which is two years more than Panarin at the same cap hit. (It's also important to note that the Blackhawks hoped they were getting a reliable, young backup goaltender in Anton Forsberg, but the injury to Corey Crawford thrust him into a role he wasn't exactly prepared for.)

It's not all rainbows for Columbus right now regarding where things stand with Panarin, who has made it clear he's not ready to sign a long-term extension. All signs point to the 26-year-old winger hitting the market, putting the Blue Jackets in a tricky situation ahead of the trade deadline. The Blackhawks very well could have found themselves in this position, too, had a deal not been made.

Both sides are dealing with their own challenges of the trade. Saad is still a key piece to the Blackhawks' puzzle and they're hoping to get more out of him, for no other reason than the team's overall success.

"You want to have success regardless of who you're playing for, who you're traded for, things like that," Saad said. "Naturally, just as competitors, you want to bring that excitement and you want to have success with the team and personally."