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Stalberg hopes to stay with Saad, Shaw for Game 5

Friday, 06.21.2013 / 2:38 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer / Stanley Cup Final series blog

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Stanley Cup Final series blog
Stalberg hopes to stay with Saad, Shaw for Game 5

CHICAGO -- Earning minutes in the Stanley Cup Playoffs hasn't come easy for Chicago Blackhawks right wing Viktor Stalberg, but he's certainly making the most of it.

After being a healthy scratch in the opening two games of the Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins, he was reinserted into the lineup for Games 3 and 4 in Boston and proved effective on a line with Andrew Shaw and Brandon Saad.

Stalberg, who has averaged just under 11 minutes of ice time in 17 games during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, told NHL.com he expects to be in the lineup for Game 5 Saturday at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).

The Saad-Shaw-Stalberg line combined for three shots, seven hits and two blocked shots in a 6-5 overtime victory against the Bruins in Game 4 Wednesday at TD Garden that evened the best-of-7 series 2-2.

"However you want to quantify or qualify that line, it's a very dangerous line for us," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "They're all dangerous when they have the puck, and they all can make plays around the net. It's a line we hadn't gone to all year, but it's a line that is dangerous both on the attack and in the [offensive] zone, and defensively they do the right things."

Stalberg missed the opening two games of the conference semifinals against the Detroit Red Wings but became a regular after that before Quenneville opted for Brandon Bollig in Games 1 and 2 against the Bruins.

Now that Stalberg is back in the lineup, he said he knows he must work extra hard to stay there.

"It's tough with the limited minutes," he said. "Sometimes when you get one or two shifts a period, it's tough to get going. But it felt like the longer the game went, especially [Game 4], we got more ice time and that's a good sign that the coaches like what we're doing."

Stalberg has three assists and a minus-1 rating in the playoffs; Shaw has five goals, nine points and a plus-1 rating in 21 games; and Saad has one goal, six points and a minus-1 rating.

Saad, who played much of the season alongside Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, said it was a bit of an adjustment switching roles but said he's willing to do whatever it takes to win.

"You try not to [play differently on a different line], but sometimes you find yourself doing that," Saad said. "There are different players making different plays, and on the third line you're playing it simple and getting pucks in and getting to the net. Regardless, you have to shoot the puck, so you don't change too much."

Stalberg said, "Me and Saad are pretty similar players with the way we play hockey We're not too much east-west but straight ahead. Shaw's a good center there and gets things going. If we keep playing the same way and keep things successful, maybe we can score once or twice. That would help us in that department as well."

Saad said Stalberg could be the fastest skater on the third line.

"I think my game and Victor's are similar in that speed game, but Victor may be a little quicker than I am," Saad said. "I might be able to play lower and stronger on the puck, but it's pretty similar with the speed game and we seem to complement each other pretty well."

Stalberg hasn't scored a postseason goal since Game 2 of the 2011 Western Conference Quarterfinals. He said he thinks his scoring chances will come soon enough. When they do, he needs to cash in.

"I think anytime you get to play in the Final, you are going to be excited and it won't be too tough to get going," Stalberg said. "It's certainly tough watching. I've been part of this team and basically played every game for three years, and when you find yourself not playing the first two games [of the Cup Final], that's challenging. You get frustrated, but I need to just make a difference when I'm in there."

He said he enjoyed playing on his line and hopes the trio will be reunited for Game 5.

"As a line we're looking pretty good," he said. "We're using our speed, and creating some problems for them. They had to honor our line even if we were not playing too many minutes. I think [in Game 4] we were really strong in the third and got some good chances ... put the pressure back on them and that's what we have to continue to do."

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Quote of the Day

I'm just excited about the opportunity. I've been on the ice earlier than usual and in the weight room, pushing around a little more weights than usual. Every day I go into a workout with a smile on my face and ready to go. When you do have a little more responsibility, you want to take your lunch pail and get ready to work.

— Brian Elliott to Jeremy Rutherford of the Post-Dispatch on being the Blues' No. 1 goalie