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."
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."
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."
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.