Red-hot Stalberg, Crawford keep Blackhawks rolling


Red-hot Stalberg, Crawford keep Blackhawks rolling

Updated: 11:01 p.m.

Viktor Stalberg said hes just taking advantage of opportunities right now.

Sometimes, when you start scoring a little bit, you get a little more confident out there, the Chicago Blackhawks forward said. And you seem to be wanting the puck a little bit more, too.

Considering his recent streak, he should want the puck all the time.

Stalberg scored two goals and extended his personal point streak to four games as the Blackhawks beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 at the United Center on Monday night. The Blackhawks continue to take advantage of their December schedule, as theyre now 9-1-1 this month.

Marian Hossa had a goal and an assist to extend his point streak to eight straight games. Dave Bolland had two assists and Patrick Sharp scored his 19th goal of the season.

Corey Crawford made another strong start, stopping 37 of 38 to get his 14th victory this season. The Blackhawks, coming off a four-day break, looked sluggish in the first and third periods. Crawford was there to stymie the Blue Jackets, who lost their fifth straight.

Im just trying to be focused, a little better prepared for games, Crawford said. I felt pretty good today. You dont want to give up too many shots but I thought we were playing well. We kept them to the outside, secured rebounds and kept guys to the side of the net.

But the Blackhawks had a great second period, and the three goals they scored in those 20 minutes were more than enough. Stalberg had both of his in that frame, the first a rebound of his own shot and the other off a pretty pass from Bolland, with Bryan Bickell screening.

There seems to be growth in his game, be it stick positioning or protecting the puck, coach Joel Quenneville said of Stalberg. He has a great shot, great speed and scored some big goals tonight.

Stalberg said I try to play the same way and obviously you have to adjust your game a little bit depending on who youre playing with. But I think I try to go hard every time, and use my speed to get other guys going with that.

Stalberg will ride his point streak and wave of confidence as long as he can. Hes on a roll right now. So are the rest of the Blackhawks.

Weve got some momentum here at home, Quenneville said. But I still think theres some growth in our game thats needed, and areas I think we should be looking to improve upon. We shouldnt be satisfied where were at. We should be looking to get better the second part of the year.

Proud papa

John Scott is the latest of the Blackhawks to welcome a new addition, as his wife Danielle gave birth to a girl, Eva Magdelene, on Christmas Eve. Eva weighs 7 pounds, 3 ounces and is 20.5 inches long.

Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch


Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch

Brandon Saad played a majority of last season on the first line, started this season on the second to change things up, got demoted to the fourth by the fifth game, and could find himself out of the lineup in the sixth.

Before the Blackhawks hit the ice for practice on Monday, the 25-year-old winger found a white jersey hanging in his stall. That's usually reserved for players who are injured — Andreas Martinsen (back) was the only other player wearing one — or players who are on the outside looking in, which appears to be Saad right now considering he was not part of the four-line rotation.

"I don't think anyone wants to be wearing white around here," he said. "But it is what it is and there's nothing you can do but keep trying to improve. It's their job to make the call to put the best team out there to win hockey games."

Known for being even-keeled through the ups and downs, Saad expressed disappointment about the possibility of being a healthy scratch on Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes. He didn't exactly show that emotion following his demotion to the fourth line, perhaps out of respect to the players he was playing with by noting how it brings balance.

But he did on Monday, and it was the first time we've really seen some sort of emotion out of him.

"Everyone makes mistakes and things aren't always going to go your way but to be out of the lineup, a little surprised today," Saad said. "But it is what it is. ... No one wants to be out of the lineup. That's never fun regardless of who you are."

When asked to pinpoint what's gone wrong, Saad said he wasn't the right person to ask.

"I think you got to ask him that," he said, referring to Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff. "It's his calls. For me, you can talk pros and cons as much as you want but just trying to go out there and compete and win hockey games. We've won a few here, I know every game has gone to overtime so they've been close. Nothing was said to me about lineup change or anything like that. You just come in and you see your jersey and you go out there and you play."

So Quenneville was asked.

"Just expect more," he said. "That's the situation."

Is his mindset in the right place?

"I think he's fine," Quenneville said. "His mindset is what it is. Whether it's urgency or passion, coming up with loose pucks in those areas is going to be the difference."

The Blackhawks sending a message shouldn't only be directed at Saad. It also serves as a reminder to his teammates and is important to note for the younger guys about earning your ice time.

"I don't really know where the coaches are coming from so I'm not going to comment on that," Jonathan Toews said respectfully. "But [Saad] has been doing some good things and I think it's good for all of us to know what's going on there because if [Saad] can get his ice time taken away, then so can a lot of guys, myself included. So we all want to play well and have team success."

The Blackhawks need Saad to return to form quickly because he's crucial to their overall success. There's no debate about that. It's why the thought of Saad, who played in all 82 games last season, serving as the 13th forward is frustrating for everyone involved.

It hasn't been a problem in the past, but now it's becoming one because of the Blackhawks' aspirations of getting back to the playoffs and their dependence on their top players.

"I don’t think it’s an issue," Quenneville said. "We just expect more out of him."

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

The Blackhawks made sports history on Saturday after they appeared in their fifth straight overtime game to start the season.

No NHL team has done that since the league introduced a regular-season overtime period in 1983-84, per the Elias Sports Bureau. It also has never happened in the history of MLB, NBA or NFL, showing just how crazy this early season run has been for the Blackhawks, who have rallied from all five games and have come away with wins in three of them.

"We’ve had five games, every one of them have been extremely intense and the game’s been on the line from start to finish," coach Joel Quenneville said following a 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues. "Our group’s been competitive this year, the guys have been working hard for one another. I don’t know how many games we’ve been down in the third period, and coming back to win is special."

The Blackhawks appeared in 17 overtime/shootout games last season and won seven of them. They are one of six teams this season that have yet to pick up a regulation win.

On a separate note, Saturday marked the eighth time in Blackhawks history that one player scored a tying goal in the third period and scored in overtime (Alex DeBrincat), according to the NHL's PR department. It's the second time it's happened this year for the Blackhawks, with Jonathan Toews the other on Oct. 6 against St. Louis.